abroad to continue participating in the political process at home. Some of them enable their expatriate nationals to vote by correspondence, or in consulates abroad, others (for example Italy) require that they travel home if they wish to vote.

community life. Therefore, electoral legislation, especially on local elections, quite justifiably prescribes citizenship as a prior condition for exercising the right to be voted. This practice is in accordance with the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level.


1 http://assembly.coe.int/documents/adoptedtext/ta01/erec1500.htm.

2 http://assembly.coe.int/documents/adoptedtext/ta94/eres1035.htm.

3 Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska, member of the Venice Commission for “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, in her report for the Venice Commission (appendix 1, p. 2).

4 Franz Matscher, member of the Venice Commission for Austria, in his report for the Venice Commission (appendix 2) has presented the case law of the European Commission and Court of Human Rights on restrictions to the right to vote.

5 Matscher, ibid., p. 10, with references to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.

6 Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (ETS No. 144)

7 Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden; in addition, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom have signed the Convention, without so far having ratified it.

8 Matscher, ibid., p.10.

9 It should go without saying that persons being both citizens and residents should have the right to vote. But the case of Aziz v. Cyprus (22.6.2004) shows that it does not: the European Court of Human Rights unanimously found a violation of Article 3 Protocol No. 1 and Article 14 (non-discrimination) in a case where the applicant, a member of the Turkish Cypriot community living in the non-occupied part of Cyprus was not registered in the electoral role of the Republic of Cyprus, even though the Constitution recognises citizens of the Republic with different ethnic origins (cf. Matscher, ibid. p.8).

10 cf. statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation reported in a Ria Novosti bulletin dated 15 March 2005.

11 19.10.2004, case discussed by Matscher, ibid., p. 8-9.

12 Countries that allow prisoners to vote (without restrictions): Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, (Israel), Finland, Norway, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine [source, also of the indications in footnotes 13 through 15: “Incarceration and Enfranchisement: International practices, impact and recommendations for reform”, Northwestern University (June-July 2003), International Foundation for Election Systems, Washington, DC].

13 countries that allow prisoners to vote (under certain conditions): Austria (depending on the length of the prison term), Germany (except those convicted of treason, electoral fraud, espionage or membership in a criminal organisation); Greece, Italy, Japan (except for certain crimes), Malta, Netherlands (depending on the length of the prison term) “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (only those barred from practicing their profession cannot vote), Slovakia (depending on the type of elections), Spain (except for certain offences), Turkey (excepted prisoners serving more than one year, or ones convicted of certain offenses).

14 Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Luxembourg, Moldova, Romania, United Kingdom, Portugal, Russian Federation.

15 Armenia, Belgium, Finland, United States (differs among States).

16 Trajkovska, ibid., p. 7; cf. CDL-AD(2002)023rev Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters” adopted by the Venice Commission at its 52nd Plenary Session (Venice, 18-19 October 2002), I.1.1.d.v.

17 Matscher, ibid., p. 7-8 gives a detailed account of the facts of the case (Hirst v. United Kingdom, 30.6.2004) and the Court’s reasoning; case still pending before the Grand Chamber.

18 In another case (Zadenoka v. Latvia, 17.6.2004), the Court saw a violation of Article 3 Protocol 1 in the permanent exclusion of the applicant from participating in national elections because of her previous political activities as a leading member of the Communist party.

19 Trajkovska, ibid., p. 8-9, with numerous references to the relevant laws of countries allowing restrictions of the right to vote of mentally ill persons (Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey).

20 Articles 2 and 10 of the Armenian Electoral Code; Article 7 of the Law on Basic Provisions on Elections and Voter Registries of Turkey, and Article 13 of the Electoral Code off Moldova, cited in : Trajkovska, ibid., p. 8.

21 Trajkovska, ibid.

22        Convention of the Rights of the Child, entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with Article 49.

23        Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters, adopted by the Venice Commission at its 52nd Plenary Session, CDL-AD(2002)023rev, para. I 1.1.a.iii.

24        United Nations General Assembly 17 December 1991 A/RES/46/137.

25        Resolution 92(2000) adopted by CLRAE, the city of Strasbourg and its Consultative Council for Foreigners on 5 and 6 November 1999; Recommendation 1500 (2001) on participation of immigrants and foreign residents in political life of the Council of Europe member states, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly and Recommendation Rec (2001) 19 of the Committee of the Ministers to member states on the participation of citizens in local public life.

26        Approved by the Chamber of Local Authorities on 5 June 2002 and adopted by the Standing Committee of the CLRAE on 6 June 2002.

27        See footnote 2.

28        Similar conditions are prescribed in the legislations of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Luxembourg, Moldova, UK and the Russian Federation.

29        See footnote 2, para. I.1.1.d.v.

30        See footnote 2, point I.2.4.

31        Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina in its Article 1.5 states that “a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina who holds dual citizenship pursuant to Article 1(7)(d) of the Constitution, shall have the right to register and to vote, only if Bosnia and Herzegovina is the country of his or her permanent residence.”

32        See footnote 2, para. I.1.1.a.iii.