Belgians living abroad cannot vote for European elections due to lack of communication
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    Belgians living abroad cannot vote for European elections due to lack of communication

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    Belgian expats could only vote for the Belgian federal elections, not for Europe.
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    Many Belgians abroad discovered at the polling stations of a Belgian consulate that they could not vote for the European elections, only for the Belgian federal elections. Belgian people living in another EU member state could vote on Wednesday for the federal and European elections in a Belgian consulate or at the embassy. Nearly 125,000 Belgians were previously registered in the EU, but many of them only discovered at the polling stations that they could not vote for Europe.

    Joost Van Belleghem, representative of the organisation Flemish People in the World, and living in Portugal, confirmed that Belgian expats all over Europe had the same problem. “I have received complaints from Austria, Latvia, Germany, Luxembourg and Italy. There were just no European ballot papers, it is the same chaos everywhere,” he said to De Morgen.

    The 325,000 Belgians who are registered as living abroad but still within the EU are subject to mandatory voting. They received a letter in April 2018 to register, but only for the federal elections. A separate registration is required for the European elections, but there is nothing in the letter about this. Only Belgians living outside the EU are automatically registered for both the federal and European elections upon registration.

    “Anyone who lives in the EU can vote in that European country, for the local lists,” explained the Foreign Affairs spokesperson to De Morgen. “There is a possibility to vote for the Belgian list for Europe, but then you must explicitly communicate that wish to the embassy. It is not our job to advertise that. Whoever wanted to, could find it on our websites,” they added.

    This means that more than 123,000 Belgians in EU member states registered for the federal elections, but only 1,404 of them, barely 1%, also registered for the European elections.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times