Posted by Compass Youth Group on 20 Jan 2008
The very large numbers of potential EU voters in London and the South East mean a huge opportunity, both to strengthen the bonds between European citizens and to influence the political balance within London and the localities. The interests of foreign residents, particularly EU foreigners, are important in the realities of the situation in London – they are sensitive to many of the qualities London needs to develop as a world city. And in a low turnout regional or local election, a mobilisation of the resident EU voters could have a strong impact on the overall result. For the parties, there is a chance to engage with a new electorate, pilot new methods of communicating and adding to the debate, and keeping in touch with the realities of London.
Political parties who wish to ask EU-foreigners for their votes and had a convincing narrative for this electorate could surely benefit from a strategy to encourage participation. Three key elements would have to be recognised in a strategy:
1. A first step would be to increase awareness amongst UK-based EU-foreigners of their democratic rights as EU-Citizens. This would serve to encourage people who make use of the right to move and work to any other EU-country, to also engage in the political process there, as an EU-citizen.
2. Secondly one would need to entice them to register with their local authority as eligible voters in order to create the formal basis for their participation in the political process in the UK, and to encourage the local authorities (in line with their duties under the Electoral Administration Act 2006) to maximise registration of these voters.
3. Finally, local authorities also have a duty to promote voting in their areas, including participation by EU voters. For the Labour Party, an electoral strategy and narrative is required to motivate this group to vote and to give incentives for why their votes should be for Labour.
Watch out for the next part or read the paper here