A record number of expats have registered to vote in the federal elections in Ghent, a city in the Dutch-language part of Belgium. Seventeen-hundred foreign-born Ghent residents have registered to vote in the local elections, up from 1,178 people in the last 2012 elections or a 44% increase.
In the run-up to this year’s communal elections in October, the Ghent city council sent 30,000 letters to local expats eligible to vote, encouraging them to register to vote in the local elections.
Under EU law, foreign-born EU citizens are allowed to vote in the local elections of the country in which they are residing. Non-EU citizens are also allowed to vote in Belgium’s municipal elections but they must have live in Belgium for a period of five consecutive years.
The deadline to register to be able to vote in the local elections as a foreign-born resident of a Belgian town or commune is tomorrow, July 31.
Communes in Belgium have a significant level of power compared to local towns in other countries, deciding on such matters as cleanliness, parking and green spaces.
Linda A. Thompson
The Brussels Times