EU citizens with Czech residency eligible to vote in municipal elections
Municipal elections, in which citizens will elect their local governments, are to take place in the Czech Republic on October 5 and 6 of this year. Elections to municipal councils are held in all Czech municipalities, towns, and city districts, including Prague. This is an opportunity for citizens to make their choice and have a say in municipal politics. Photo: Czech Republic decisions // For illustration purposes. Credit: Kurious // Pixabay.
Brno, Jul 28 (BD) – Czech citizens are not the only demographic who can participate in the decision making process. Expats with Czech residence permits who are EU citizens can also vote in the municipal elections in the regions where they reside. This right is reflected in Article 22(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The detailed arrangements are then listed by Council Directive 94/80/EC.
EU citizens wishing to participate in the elections who are not yet registered to vote need to apply to be included on the addendum to the permanent electoral roll, the official list of voters maintained by municipal offices. “[Nationals of EU member states] shall have the right to vote provided they have reached the age of 18 on the second polling day at the latest […] and, by polling day, are registered as permanent residents in the municipality,” reads the official website of the Czech Ministry of Interior. According to a decision by the Regional court in Brno in 2014, where a citizen of the Slovak Republic asked to be eligible to vote in local elections in Brno-Královo Pole, EU citizens with temporary residence are also eligible to participate. The State Electoral Commission accepted this ruling, and at its meeting on 22 September 2014 recommended that municipal authorities allow EU citizens with temporary residence in the Czech Republic to be added to the permanent voter list on request. Foreigners with temporary residence were able to participate in the municipal elections in 2014. In 2016, an amendment to the existing law was proposed to reflect this situation, but was not passed. However, the Ministry recommends that EU nationals with temporary residence should also be allowed to vote in the elections in 2018 (Source: Metodické stanovisko Ministerstva vnitra k postupu obecních úřadů).
According to the Ministry, the law does not just allow EU citizens with valid Czech residency to vote, but also gives them the right to run for election to Municipal Councils. “EU citizenship gives every EU citizen the right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal and European Parliament elections under the same conditions as nationals, regardless of whether they are a national of the country in which they reside,” reads a European Commission report on the subject. Member States can decide that only their own nationals are eligible to run for head of the executive body of a basic local government unit. In the Czech Republic, EU citizens who are not also Czech citizens cannot be elected mayor, according to Europa.eu, a source of information for EU nationals living abroad.
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