The right to vote in local elections may be extended to foreign residents.
- Each Party undertakes, subject to the provisions of Article 9, paragraph 1, to grant to every foreign resident the right to vote and to stand for election in local authority elections, provided that he fulfils the same legal requirements as apply to nationals and furthermore has been a lawful and habitual resident in the State concerned for the 5 years preceding the elections.
- States should foster citizen participation in the electoral process by] facilitating access to nationality as advocated in the European Convention on Nationality (ETS No. 166) and granting legally resident migrants voting rights and/or other possibilities for political participation as proposed in the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (ETS No. 144).
- [States should foster citizen participation in the electoral process by] facilitating the participation in the electoral process of citizens living abroad, subject to restrictions in accordance with the law, such as duration of residence abroad, whilst ensuring that, if polling stations are set up abroad, their establishment is based on transparent criteria.
- A nationality requirement may apply; ii. however, it would be advisable for foreigners to be allowed to vote in local elections after a certain period of residence.
- Whilst a citizenship requirement is common for national elections and referendums, there is a growing tendency to grant (long-term) foreign residents the right to vote in local elections.
- The enfranchisement of foreigners, at least in the local context, is a major provision of the Council of Europe Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at the Local Level. The Convention directly obliges states to “grant the right to vote and to stand for election in local authority elections” to foreign residents provided that they lawfully and habitually reside in the respective country for at least 5 years preceding the elections – giving also the possibility to shorten such a period of residency.
- While citizenship requirements can be applied in relation to parliamentary elections, participating States are encouraged to provide non-citizens belonging to national minorities with the possibility to vote and to stand as candidates in local elections.