This content was originally posted by the Europe Brussels liaison office.
The concept of European citizenship was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. As a result, citizens of the European Union living in another member state have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament in their place of residence. They also have the right to stand for election on a European party list.
The last European election in Belgium took place on 7 June 2009. European members of parliament are elected for a period of five years. The next European election in Belgium will take place in may 2014.
Who can vote?
European citizens living in Belgium can vote in the European Parliament elections if the following criteria are met:
- You must be a citizen of one of the Member States of the European Union.
You must be a citizen of one of the 28 EU member states, and this condition must be fulfilled by 1 March 2014 at the latest.
- You must be resident in a Belgian municipality.
Be enrolled on the population register or register of foreigners in your borough by 1 March 2014 at the latest. Holders of special identity cards also meet this condition.
- You must be 18 years or older the day of the elections.
- You must be eligible to vote.
You must not have been excluded of your voting rights or be suspended as summarised in Belgian legislation. In addition, you must not be deprived of your voting rights in your country of origin, either by an individual legal decision or by an administrative decision.
These cases of exclusion or suspension of your voting rights are checked by your local authority when you enrol. Cases of declaration of expiry of voting rights in your country of origin are not subject to any check. But in these cases a statement is included with the actual enrolment form.
- You must register on the voters list.
Enrolment on the electoral register must be done before a specific date. For the next elections, on 25 May 2014, you must enrol by 28 February 2014 at the latest.
How do you enrol on the electoral register?
- Fill in the enrolment form (C/1) et send it back to your commune or hand it in yourself. Where and how do you send in your enrolment form? Consult our table.
- The municipal administration will examine your request based on the information you submitted using the above mentioned form.
- If you are accepted as a voter by the municipal council, you wil receive a official confirmation of the commune.
If you cannot attend on election day, you can always vote by proxy.
- How do you vote by proxy?
Electors can also vote by proxy, by giving the authority to vote to another elector, who then becomes their mandatary. This must be another elector who also votes (it is usually a relative or friend). But a mandatary may only receive the proxy from one other person. For example, if your family consists of two people and neither of you can vote on 25 May, you must find two separate mandataries who will vote in your name.
- In what circumstances? The most common circumstances are:
* Illness or invalidity: the impossibility of voting for such reasons must be backed up by a medical certificate.
* Professional reasons or duty: the employer must provide a certificate that is to be attached to the proxy document
* Study reasons, for students: the educational institution that the student attends must provide a certificate that is to be attached to the proxy document.
* Holiday abroad: to be confirmed by means of a certificate from the mayor or his representative. The request must be submitted by the day before the election at the latest.
Giving a mandate for someone to vote by proxy is possible up to the day of the election, except in the case of a holiday abroad. In that case it must be done on the day before the election at the latest, because the local authority in question has to stamp the document.
You can download the proxy form from the following website: http://www.ibz.rrn.fgov.be/index.php?id=3279
- Election day
On the day of the election, the mandatary has to cast his vote in the polling station of the person who has given the proxy and must be in possession of a fully completed and signed proxy form with the necessary certificate, in addition to his own ballot paper and identity card.
How does one make a valid vote?
You may only vote on one list:
* Either you vote by marking a box at the top of the list (i.e. a list vote)
* Or you vote by marking the box next to the name of one or more candidates (vote by name)
So it is not possible to place both a list vote and a name vote for one or more candidates on the same list. If you vote on more than one list, your vote is in any case not valid.
- European citizens can only cast one vote in each election. You therefore have to choose whether to vote in Belgium or in your land of origin.
- In Belgium voting is compulsory. If you register on the voting list, you are legally obliged to vote.
- If you choose to vote in Belgium, you must choose a candidate on a Belgian list. You cannot choose a candidate on a list in another member state.
- If you already requested to enter a voting register in the past and your application was accepted, you don’t need to reiterate the procedure.
- You have to register separately to vote in municipal elections and European Parliament elections.
More informatie on www.ibz.rrn.fgov.be