A Government letter which claims a British pensioner fighting for the right to vote in general elections from abroad is “not a victim” has provoked outrage among expats. The letter was sent from the Foreign Office to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, in relation to a case brought against the UK by expat Harry Shindler. Mr Shindler, a 90-year old World War Two veteran who lives in Italy, believes that the UK’s current policy of depriving expats of their vote after 15 years spent abroad is discriminatory, and the ECHR is currently considering his claim.
In the letter, a spokesman for the Government said that it stood by the opinion that the “applicant is not a ‘victim’, according to principles established in the case-law in the court” and argued that if Mr Shindler wished to vote, “it was open to him to take Italian citizenship and acquire a right to vote in elections to the Italian national parliament.”
“His choice not to do so, apparently influenced by a desire to limit his integration into Italian society, is a legitimate choice but it is not a choice which the law is obliged to accommodate by permitting him to continue to vote in the UK after 15 years residence abroad,” the letter continued. Brian Cave, a France-based campaigner for expat rights, denounced on his blog what he called the Government’s “insolence”.
“[The letter] indicates that Mr Shindler has not demonstrated that he has been adversely affected by not being able to vote in the last 14 years or in the future. Well, he hasn’t lost an arm or caught some horrible disease because he hasn’t been able to vote. But he hasn’t been able to influence the political progress in England in his own small way. You may as well say ‘let’s take away the vote from everyone, no one will suffer’,” he said.
Full Article: Expats denounce Government over voting rights – Telegraph.