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Voting Rights: Commonwealth

Justice written question – answered on 21st May 2008.

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Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice which Commonwealth countries give UK citizens who are resident in those countries full voting rights.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

Following parliamentary questions on this subject in recent years we sought to obtain information from individual Commonwealth countries about the voting rights of British/Commonwealth citizens resident within their confines.

We received a response rate of 57 per cent. and from this information we have established that within those countries there are no formal reciprocal or other arrangements in place concerning voting rights between Commonwealth countries (including the UK).

As in the UK, it is for the individual Commonwealth countries concerned to decide on their own franchise arrangements and whether they wish to extend the franchise to other Commonwealth citizens resident in their countries, as the UK does to Commonwealth citizens lawfully resident here.

We are aware that in some Commonwealth countries, resident British/Commonwealth citizens may be able to vote in elections there. However, this is linked to time resident in the country or a particular electoral area and is, in respect of some states, not by virtue of them being British/Commonwealth citizens but rather simply because they are lawfully resident non-nationals.

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