Saturday, 23 June 2018

BREXIT What it means for Brits living in Germany

On 21 June 2018 British in Germany, cooperating with Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft, organised an event at the British Honorary Consulate in Frankfurt called "BREXIT What it means for Brits living in Germany". There were nearly 200 people present waiting to hear what the Consul General, Rafe Courage and British in Germany would be able to tell us.

After a fairly bland opening statement from the Consul General and a summary of the important work of British in Germany, the meeting was given over to questions and answers. A mixture of very specific question on individual cases and more general attempts to understand the British government's position and plans were asked. There was a moderate amount of appropriate heckling, booing and applause from the floor, and even a vexed "Please, let me finish ..." from the Consul General at one point.

I used the opportunity to ask what confidence we should have in Mrs May's government's support for citizen's rights, pointing out the continuing disenfranchisement of British expatriates and their exclusion from the Brexit referendum. The good news is that we were informed that the Oversees Electors Bill had passed its second reading in the Commons and was now at the Committee stage. This bill would give votes for life to expatriates. You can read Sue Collard's blog on the Bill here. I look forward to following the progress of the Bill, and to the reinstatement of my franchise at the earliest opportunity.

My thanks to British in Germany and Deutsche-Britisch Gesellschaft for organising the meeting, and to the British Honorary Consulate in Frankfurt for hosting. The Consul General was right to attend, but was faced with the unenviable task of representing a poorly defined and poorly communicate government position.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Realisation dawns - just a bit too late

It was interesting to note that, during the run-up to the Brexit (Braustritt/Brortie) referendum there was a certain amount of coverage in the UK press given to the fact that many UK citizens were disenfranchised because they had been living outside the UK for "too long".  There was an attempt to get this position over-ruled, and it failed.  As a result, many UK citizens living and working in the EU were deliberately excluded from deciding the UK's future on the global stage.

This is nothing new. There have been ongoing campaigns to re-establish the franchise for expatriate UK citizens for many years. The International Antidisenfranchisement League has also done its small part in highlighting the ongoing undemocratic and parochial disenfranchisement of expatriate citizens.

The outcome of the referendum is bad for the European ideal, bad for the stability and cooperation it engenders and bad the individual Europeans now facing the prospect of an island neighbour more insular than ever.  The good news is that the media have been prompted by Brexit-fever to highlight the UK's disenfranchisement of a significant part of its potential electorate.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Brexit und die Auswirkungen in Roßorf


Nach dem Vertrag von Maastricht fügte das Gesetz zur Änderung des Grundgesetzes Art. 28 Abs. 1 sodann folgenden Satz 3 bei: „Bei Wahlen in Kreisen und Gemeinden sind auch Personen, die die Staatsangehörigkeit eines Mitgliedstaates der Europäischen Gemeinschaft besitzen, nach Maßgabe von Recht der Europäischen Gemeinschaft wahlberechtigt und wählbar.“
Da das Vereinigte Königreich zur Zeit ein Staat der Europäischen Union ist, mussen dessen Staatsangehörigen bei der Kommunalwahl genau diese Wahlberechtigung und Wählbarkeit genießen.  Und es funktioniert – zuletzt in März 2016 bei der Kommunalwahl in Roßdorf haben zusammen mit vielen anderen EG Bürger auch einige Briten das aktive Wahlrecht ausgeübt. Weiterhin haben sich zwei Briten als Kandidaten aufstellen lassen und sind gewählt worden.
Und jetzt am 23. Juni 2016 haben die Briten ganz knapp für einen Austritt der EG entschieden. Merkwürdig dabei ist, dass die Briten die im Ausland mehr als 15 Jahre gewohnt haben waren dabei nicht Wahlberechtigt.
Die konsequenzen sind klar. Sobald das Vereinigte Königreich endgültig die EG verläßt sind Briten die keine zusätzliche EG Staatsangehörigkeit besitzen nicht mehr EG Bürger, und daher nicht mehr wahlberechtigt und nicht wählbar.  Unsere Britische Gemeindevertreterins freies Mandat verbleibt – sie wird dennoch nachträglich für die Kommunalwahl nicht wählbar werden.  Lass uns sehen, was die Behörden dazu zu sagen haben.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Nix Foreigners' Advisory Committee

This time around there will be no election of a Foreigners' Advisory Committee in Roßdorf.

Although it might seem like a bad day for democracy, it masks a more positive message.  Those foreign residents who have been involved in discussions have made it clear that they already feel adequately represented and that there are no pressing issues that are not already being taken care of by the existing council bodies.

It will be interesting to watch how the influx of refugees and asylum seekers impacts this.  Once registered with the council, they are resident and therefore would be within the scope of the Foreigners' Advisory Committee.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Council promotes information event for election of Foreigners' Advisory Committee

Well done to the local Council.  Gemeinde Roßdorf has taken the trouble to plan and announce an information event about the forthcoming election of a Foreigners' Advisory Committee (Ausländerbeirat).  And after only a very slight nudge they were good enough to make the announcement in German and then in English.

The link to the German version is here:

The link to the English version is here:

I wonder if anyone other than me will turn up.  Here's hoping.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Not-so-general Election

7 May 2015 will mark the General Election in the UK – I will not be voting. 

Disenfranchisement

Despite being a British citizen, born in the UK and having a British passport, I have been disenfranchised by the British state since 2010 and have no right to vote in the UK. 

Right to vote lost whilst living abroad

British citizens living outside the UK are allowed to continue voting in the UK for a maximum of 15 years.  After this point they become disenfranchised, but do maintain their citizenship.
The 15 year period has been shorter and longer and is set at the discretion of Parliament.  The limited period of enfranchisement is intended to reflect a disconnection of overseas elector with the UK.

Contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity ... To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors”.  The UK ratified the ICCPR in 1976, but continues to ignore its commitments to expatriate citizens by disenfranchising them after a 15 year period of non-residence.


If you have the chance to vote, make sure you use it.  If not, don’t bother trying to write to your MP – you haven’t got one.


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Local elections coming up soon - April 19

On 19 April we will have both the mayoral election in Roßdorf (for the Bürgermeister) and the election of the leader of the regional parliament (for the Landrat).

According to Article 30 of the Hessische Gemeindeordnung (HGO), Germans and other European Union citizens who are resident in Germany have the right to vote.  Of course, in a truly democratic system nationality would not play a role - all residents would have the same rights.

As this is not yet the case, there are three steps that we can follow:

  • encourage those who have not been disenfranchised to use their vote;
  • by establishing an Ausländerbeirat give a voice to those who would otherwise be excluded from local and regional decision making;
  • lobby for the extension of the franchise for regional and local elections irrespective of nationality.

On the 19 April, for those who can - use your vote.