The SNP Government has published legislation to extend the right to vote in Scottish elections to citizens of all nationalities legally resident in Scotland.
The Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill will benefit around 55,000 people and reaffirms the existing voting rights of European Union and Commonwealth citizens.
Minister for Parliamentary Business Graeme Dey MSP said:
“Scotland has already led the way by lowering the voting age to 16 and we are building on this progress by extending the right to vote to everyone legally resident here.
“Extending voting rights to all citizens with a legal right to residency demonstrates Scotland’s commitment to equally value everyone who chooses to make our country their home and is a demonstration of the kind of Scotland we seek to build.
“It is only fair that foreign nationals with a permanent right to live here, whether from EU countries or elsewhere, have the right to vote and stand as candidates in devolved elections. This is backed by the public consultation we undertook in 2018, which found 92% of organisations and 78% of individuals supported this reform.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“Unlike the Tories, we in the SNP believe that if you live in Scotland, you should be able to contribute to political life here by voting or actively putting yourself forward for election.
“That’s why the 2018 SNP Programme for Government announced a Bill to extend voting rights for Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections to include all those with a legal right to live here. This will utilise the powers devolved under the Scotland Act 2016 covering Scottish Parliament elections.
“The UK Government should follow Scotland’s example and extend the Westminster franchise in the same way, although we know they have no interest in doing so.”
The Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill can be found here.