Participating in municipal elections: the right to vote and to stand as a candidate
The Directive establishes the right of European Union citizens residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections.
Council Directive 94/80/EC of 19 December 1994 laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections by citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals [See amending acts].
Community nationals residing in a Member State other than their Member State of origin may vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections. This Directive establishes the arrangements for exercising this right.
Ensuring the same conditions without harmonising electoral systems
The objective of the Directive is not to harmonise Member States' electoral systems, but to ensure that nationals of both the Member State concerned and other Member States can exercise the right to vote and to stand as a candidate under the same conditions. The Directive applies to municipal elections only.
The main purpose of the Directive is to abolish the nationality requirement imposed by a number of Member States in their national electoral law. The Community legislation does not affect the Member States' provisions on the rights of their own nationals or third-country nationals residing in their territory.
Voting and standing as a candidate in municipal elections
Municipal elections are elections by direct universal suffrage at basic local government unit level. These units are listed for each Member State in the Annex to the Directive.
The persons who may vote and stand as candidates in municipal elections in their Member State of residence of which they are not nationals are those who:
- are European Union citizens, i.e. persons with the nationality of a Member State of the European Union (EU);
- are resident in the Member State where they would like to vote or stand as a candidate;
- comply with the conditions imposed by the national legislation of the Member State of residence on its nationals concerning the right to vote and stand in municipal elections. The principle of equality and non-discrimination between national and Community voters and candidates must be observed (European citizens to satisfy the same conditions as nationals of the Member State of residence).
In order to take part in elections, citizens must apply to be entered in the electoral roll of the Member State of residence as an expression of their interest in voting. The Member States must make the necessary arrangements to enable them to be entered on the electoral roll in due time before polling day. Community nationals must provide the same supporting documents as national voters. In Member States where voting is compulsory, Community voters entered on the electoral roll are also covered by this obligation.
There is nothing in the Directive to prevent persons voting or standing as a candidate both in their Member State of residence and in their home Member State. However, Member States may provide that the holding of elected municipal office in the Member State of residence is incompatible with the holding of offices in other Member States which are equivalent to those which give rise to incompatibility in the Member State of residence.
Restrictions on the right to stand as a candidate
Member States may refuse Community citizens the right to stand as a candidate if they:
- have lost the right to stand as a candidate under the law of their Member State of origin as a result of an individual decision under civil or criminal law;
- cannot produce a declaration as referred to in Article 9 of the Directive (nationality and residence declaration, declaration of non-deprivation of the right to stand as a candidate and, in certain cases, an attestation from the competent administrative authorities, production of an identity document, etc.).
Member States may also reserve the office of elected head, deputy or member of the governing college of the executive for its own nationals if these persons are elected to hold office for the duration of their mandate, while ensuring that any measures adopted in this area are appropriate, necessary and proportionate. Member States may also provide that citizens of the Union who are elected members of a representative council may not take part in designating delegates who can vote in a parliamentary assembly or in electing the members of that assembly.
The Directive provides for derogations for:
- any Member State where the proportion of Union citizens of voting age who reside there, but are not its own nationals, exceeds 20 % of the total electorate;
- Union citizens who already have the right to vote in elections to the national parliament of their Member State of residence.
Amendment to the Directive following enlargement of the European Union
The Annex to the Directive, which lists the basic local government units in each Member State, has been amended on several occasions, following the accession of new Member States to the European Union: Austria, Finland and Sweden on 1 January 1995, the eight countries of central and eastern Europe and Cyprus and Malta on 1 May 2004, and Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January 2007.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Directive 94/80/EC||20.1.1995||1.1.1996||OJ L 368 of 31.12.1994|
|Amending act(s)||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Directive 96/30/EC||22.5.1996||-||OJ L 122 of 22.5.1996|
|Act concerning the conditions of accession of|
the Czech Republic,
the Republic of Estonia,
the Republic of Cyprus,
the Republic of Latvia,
the Republic of Lithuania,
the Republic of Hungary,
the Republic of Malta,
the Republic of Poland,
the Republic of Slovenia and
the Slovak Republic
and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the European Union is founded
Annex II: List referred to in Article 20 of the Act of Accession - 2. Free movement for persons - D. Citizens' rights
|1.5.2004||-||OJ L 236 of 23.9.2003|
|Directive 2006/106/EC||01/01/2007||01/01/2007||OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006|
For further information please consult:
- " Your Europe " website.