The European Court of Human Rights has asked the United Kingdom government to explain why certain UK expats are not allowed to vote in general elections.
Current rules state that expats who have not been in the UK for 15 years or more are not allowed to vote in general elections, however this rule is now being challenged.
A 90 year old expat named Henry Shindler has approached the European Court of Human Rights with a case. Currently living in Italy, Mr Shindler, who fought in the Second World War, believes he should be allowed to vote regardless of where he lives.
The Court has asked: “One of the major concerns of the Council of Europe is to preserve and strengthen democracy and civic rights of member states. Steps should therefore be taken to ensure that every national of a member state is able to exercise his political rights, at least in his country of origin, when he resides in another Council of Europe member state.”
It continues: “Due regard should be given to the voting rights of citizens living abroad. The right to vote is an essential freedom in every democratic system”
Shindler himself said: “When I first raised this in a letter with Jack Straw a few years ago he wrote back and told me that Britons abroad could not vote as they had broken their ties with Britain. That's absolute nonsense. I and countless others have not broken our ties with Britain we still have many friends and families there and we visit as often as we can.
"What is also very important is that many pensioners get their pensions from Britain and the government looks after these pensions so we should have a say in the election of that government.”
A government spokesman has stated that the notice has been read and the Court will be replied to soon.