In Ireland all foreign residents have the right to vote in municipal elections and have been doing so … since 1963!
Driving force of progress
According to the diverse testimonies and studies on the subject, this measure currently generates barely any controversy, with the role of foreigners in the construction of society now well ingrained in the collective imagination. Moreover, since 1992, no minimum length of stay in the country is required. A trailblazer in Europe in this field, Ireland turned out to be the driving force of progress of northern European countries. Focusing on the Irish model would allow us to get rid of certain reluctances. The situation is certainly not identical in France, because to establish foreigners’ right to vote in France would require a constitutional amendment. This development was achieved in Ireland without leading to major structural reforms. Nevertheless, for this country with barely more than 250 000 foreigners, approximately 7 % of its population, this was a major step in its political life, as well as a major evolution towards progress.
Integration and recognition, a step towards equality
The benefits of this measure are multiple and focuses mainly on the corresponding issues of what it means to live together. The foreigners’ integration in the life of their municipality of residence has indeed greatly facilitated the fight against communitarianism; it leads to socialization through commitment to public life, focusing on common values rather than those of their cultures of origin.
But what should really inspire us from the voting rights of foreigners in Ireland is the fact that fighting for the voting right of the foreigners is also a question of equality and recognition. This implies the recognition of immigrant workers who pay taxes to the French state.
When taxes are paid, when local residence taxes are settled, it is legitimate not to be excluded from a democratic process that would allow their voices to be heard in the running of their municipalities. We can only hope that our leaders draw inspiration from this country.
“A trailblazer in Europe in this field, Ireland turned out to be the driving force of progress of northern European countries.”