Czech Republic: EU citizens from abroad may vote in local elections
Foreigners in the Czech Republic who are citizens of EU Member States may participate in the municipal elections this year even if they only have temporary residency and not statutory permanent residency, according to the State Election Commission (SEC). The recommendation was made in accordance with last Friday's verdict handed down by the Regional Court in Brno.
There are roughly 110 000 EU Member State citizens with temporary residency in the Czech Republic, according to police data, 30 000 of them in Prague. Czech Interior Minister spokesperson Vladimír Řepka made the announcement after the SEC met today.
Because of Friday's verdict, the SEC has organized the printing of ballots per the needs of each region, the spokesperson said. The SEC also recommended the Interior Minister amend the law on local elections as soon as possible in connection with EU regulations and Řepka said the Government has already begun to do so.
Foreigners who are EU citizens already had the opportunity to vote for EP candidates in the Czech Republic irrespective of whether they reside in the Czech Republic or not. However, they cannot vote in other kinds of elections (such as to the lower house, the Regional Authorities or the Senate).
The Regional Court in Brno reviewed a lawsuit brought by Slovak citizen Peter Nagy, who asked to be enrolled on the voter list in the Královo Pole municipal department of Brno. The municipality refused to do so, saying he was not a permanent resident there as required by the law on local elections.
The court ordered him enrolled on the list with reference to EU law. According to the SEC's recommendation, such requests should be accepted by other town halls too.
The court argued that while permanent residency for Czech citizens is just a matter of registration, foreigners from EU countries must meet stricter criteria to be granted such residency. In most cases the condition is that the foreigner be a long-term resident of the Czech Republic.
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