- The European Union Studies Association-Japan
- 日本EU学会年報 (ISSN:18843123)
- vol.2003, no.23, pp.212-230,307, 2003
In 1992, the Treaty of Maastricht institutionalised the rights of European Union citizens to vote in local elections in their country of residence. This paper describes the main characteristics of the concept of EU citizenship and analyses the way in which national and/or European identities affected the voting behaviour of non-French residents during the French local elections in March 2001.<br>The introduction of these limited political rights within the EU established the notion of "multiple citizenship", combining both the traditional idea of citizenship of a nation-state, and that of the new wider citizenship based on a multi-national agreement.<br>The author takes the case of the March 2001 local elections, when some reluctance to extend voting rights to include all EU citizens residing in France became apparent amongst the French public, and political parties adopted different attitudes to the issue, in some cases even questioning the basic principle of giving foreigners the right to vote. The newly acquired rights of EU citizens were seen to have created unequal political status in the absence of similar rights for long-term residents in France from non-EU countries.<br>It is important to note that majority of EU citizens in France who have obtained voting rights are from South European countries such as Portugal, Italy and Spain. This fact has drawn the attention of many political parties which had in fact encouraged those with South European nationalities, particularly Portuguese, to stand for the local election of March 2001. The paper argues that some political parties expected these candidates with South European nationalities to attract a large number of potential voters among EU citizens from South European countries.<br>Another aspect covered by the paper concerns the various levels of identity—local, national and regional—reflected in the exercise of voting rights of EU expatriates, within a political system which recognizes the diversity of cultural origins of its electorate.<br>Finally, the author suggests possible future means of achieving European integration and describes several incidents which illustrate the impact of the participation of non-French EU citizens in local elections.