Migrants' Rights Network

Scotland Considering Right to Vote for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

The Scotsman reports that the Scottish Government is considering whether to give refugees and asylum seekers the right to vote in national elections. This would be a UK first, as well as an inspirational progressive approach to migration, in line with other recent suggestions by Scottish authorities. 

Holyrood was granted new powers over the running of elections under the 2016 Scotland Act and ministers are set to make major changes to the country’s electoral system.

A public consultation launched last month suggested that the voting franchise for Scottish Parliament and council elections should be extended to “everyone legally resident in Scotland”. The Scottish Greens are now calling for this to include refugees and asylum seekers, arguing it would send a message that Scotland is a “welcoming country”.

Green MSP Ross Greer, the party’s external affairs spokesman, said refugees and asylum seekers who have chosen to come to Scotland should not be denied a democratic voice.

“Scotland is a welcoming country. Our history of taking in those in need of a safe home is a long one and continues today,” he said.”It was only a few weeks ago we celebrated the 2,000th Syrian refugee to be settled here. What better way could we show refugees and asylum seekers that they truly are welcome and that Scotland is their home than by giving them the right to vote? It is only right that all those who live here and are affected by decisions made locally or nationally have a say in choosing those who make the decisions.”

If such a policy were to come into force, it would be yet another reminder of what Scotland can teach England about attitudes toward immigration

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Fabien Cante

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