Doc. 9906

12 September 2003

Abolition of restrictions on the right to vote in general elections

Motion for a recommendation

presented by Mrs Hägg and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

      Principles of non-discrimination have been laid down in numerous international instruments binding for Council of Europe member states. Nevertheless, the respect for the right to vote in political elections differs in European societies. Age, citizenship or permanent residence are factors that can restrain citizens’ possibilities to participate in general elections and referenda. National legislation in several countries places limits on the right to vote also on other grounds. Such restrictions apply to citizens who serve a longer or shorter prison sentence, citizens who are sentenced for certain crime or have an earlier sentence. Citizens declared incapable, mentally retarded or having a mental disease can also be deprived of their rights to vote. Democratic legitimacy requires equal participation by all groups of society in the political process. Restrictions on people’s right to vote means restrictions on democracy.

      The Parliamentary Assembly therefore asks the Committee of Ministers to urge the governments of member states to abolish restrictions on the right to vote in general elections and in referenda.

Signed 1:

Hägg, Sweden, SOC

Aguiar, Portugal, EPP/CD

Cliveti, Romania, SOC

Damanaki, Greece, UEL

Err, Luxembourg, SOC

Foulkes, United Kingdom, SOC

Giovanelli, Italy, SOC

López-González, Spain, SOC

Rudkovsky, Ukraine, SOC

Rupprecht, Germany, SOC

Skarphéđinsson, Iceland, SOC

Zwerver, Netherlands, SOC


1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group