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Would-be voters with no voice


After all the media commentary, public opinion and online polls over the last few months, the week of the EU referendum vote is finally upon us. However, there are some who won't be able to have their say later this week.

According to recent surveys, there are as many as 3 million people living in the UK who are citizens of another country and will be unable to vote - in spite of paying taxes and feeling part of British society. Online polls also suggest over 7,000 expats will not have the right to vote in the EU referendum, even though they were born here and will be profoundly affected if the 'leave' campaign triumphs (if you have lived abroad for over 15 years you will not be able to vote). And, unlike in Scotland, 16 and 17 year olds who live in this country will not be allowed to vote. We speak to two people who have lived in the UK but won't get to have a say in a referendum which will affect their future.

'Young people will have to live with the repercussions.'

Amelia, a student and UK citizen living in Britain, aged 17.

"I think [16 and 17 year olds voting in the Scottish referendum] is a good thing as it gives young people a chance to have a say in their country's future and allows them to be more involved in politics.

I do think my friends would vote [if they had the opportunity]. Young people are becoming much more interested in politics and want a say in the future of the economy, which should be encouraged. I don't really feel that I have a voice as I am unable to vote and very few people will listen to a young person's opinion.

I don't think it is fair [that 17 year olds cannot vote] as the result will affect younger generations more. This is a decision that may not be reversed for many years and we have to live with the repercussions. The economy and social changes will inevitably affect younger people more as we have much less to fall back on."

The results from a recent online survey by Opinion Outpost showed that there was a fairly even split on whether members think 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote (45% overall thought that they shouldn't vesus 43% who thought they should).

'The spectrum of the referendum is a political lever to the UK.'

Didier, a Physiotherapist and French citizen, married to British citizen, who lived in the UK for 8 years.

"I do not think annual financial contribution should necessarily give you a right to vote. Not having a right to vote makes sense, but it does not mean that we do not have a role to play. As an EU citizen it is my 'duty' to discuss it with my British friends.

[The UK] politically has never been positively involved [in Europe]. The spectrum of the referendum is a political lever to the UK, to change the direction taken by European integration.

Having England out of the EU will redistribute geopolitical cards with potential instability and risk at the door of France. But Brexit may drift toward nationalism and populism, calling for fragmentation and stigmatisation."

What do you think? Are we being undemocratic in who we are and aren't allowing to vote? Do you think all expats should be included? Should foreign nationals living in the UK be able to vote? Should the under 18s have a say? We would love to know what you think. Join the discussion on our Facebook page and let us know.

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