Expats often have the right to vote – even run – in local elections (updated)

(Editor’s note: This post was updated with information about BSA, the first student political party in Den Haag. Thanks Riiziane Golamun for bringing this to our attention.)

The American War for Independence was fought over the principle of “no taxation without representation,” because the British denied American colonists the vote.

At this point, I only get to vote in U.S. elections. But had no idea the European Union has a special class of expats who do get to vote in some local and municipal elections, which are coming up in the Netherlands. So, we’ll look mostly at the Netherlands in this post.

The details:

• Under Maastricht Treaty reciprocity, every citizen in the EU has the right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal and European elections in the country where they currently reside under the same rules for local nationals.

However, the treaty is implemented differently from country to country.

• Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Slovenia and Belgium extend the local vote – with stipulations – to all foreign residents. Most of the requirements have to do with how long you’ve been a resident and your status. For example, here  in our headquarters country, non-EU citizens are eligible to vote in local elections but only if they have been legally resident in the Netherlands for five years. So be sure to consult local officials on the details. In the Netherlands, you can go to the local gemeentehuis, or mayor’s office, for details and voting forms.

• If you are a citizen of a Europe Union country (and at least 18 years old) who is a legal resident of Netherlands, you are allowed to both vote AND run for local office.

While we can’t vote, we have Dutch friends asking us to remind our Dispatches audience that the D66 Party IS the expat-friendly party in the Netherlands.


This is from our friend Lars Brok in ‘s-Hertogenbosch:

I have something to ask you. I am a member of a very good Dutch political party, D66, and the program committee for the coming elections for the government of the cities which will be in March. I think that it would be very good if the expats living in Holland – and who have the right to vote  – would vote for D66. And ask their friends to vote for D66 too.

Perhaps many expats do not consider voting or asking their friends to vote. But I think that on the community level it is very important to have people on the community council who are open to the world and support people from all over Europe and elsewhere to come to study or work and live in Holland.

For sure D66, a social liberal party, is the party most open to the world and supports most the expat’s interests.

It is really more important for people from different countries who are studying or working in the Netherlands to vote or promote voting for D66 during the elections in March 2018 than they realize!

I hope you will support my message and can place it on your site!

Warmest greetings Lars Brok, Den Bosch.

Lars provided a link to the D66 platform in English, which you can read here.

Here are the main planks of the D66 platform:

• Education

• Environmental issues and Green energy

• European collaboration

• Less bureaucracy

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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