Expats in Brussels encouraged to vote in local elections
The Brussels minister responsible for local government wants to see more non-Belgians voting in municipal elections.
Since 2006, non-Belgians have been allowed to vote in local elections, but the majority in Brussels don’t exercise this right. Of the capital region’s 1.2 million inhabitants, 36.9 per cent are from outside Belgium. Only 15 per cent voted in the last municipal elections in 2018. Bernard Clerfayt of francophone party DéFI wants to encourage them to become involved.
“It's our duty to involve all Brussels residents, including non-Belgians, in the electoral process,” he said in a statement on Monday. “This is of democratic importance. Since they actively participate in Brussels society, it makes sense that they should designate their locally elected representatives.”
He is launching a project call to associations to raise awareness among non-Belgians about their right to vote. “I am convinced that some of these Brussels residents do not see the importance of voting, are not sufficiently informed about the electoral system or are simply unaware of the fact that they have the right to vote,” Clerfayt said.
"It's our duty to involve all Brussels residents, including non-Belgians, in the electoral process"
In total, the region has made 150,000 euros available to support projects and associations have until 27 October to apply. Projects could consist of information sessions, brochures, events or discussion groups, and must be aimed at residents of foreign nationality. The goal is to raise awareness of the right to vote, the powers of local authorities, registration requirements for European and non-European citizens and the impact of voting on daily life.
Municipal, European, federal and provincial elections will be held in June 2024.
Illustration picture of a polling station in Brussels, October 2018 © BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ