BM83: Resolution: Voting is a right, also for non-resident students!

25.11.2022
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In Italy, national elections were held last 25 September and once again, 4.9 million Italian people outside their municipality of residence had objective difficulties exercising their right to vote. These voters work or study in places other than their municipality of residence, representing 10.5 per cent of the electoral body. In 2022, Italy has not yet introduced into its regulations the possibility of voting in general elections in a municipality other than the one in which one has a residence. This means that not everyone could vote in the national elections on 25 September.

Democratic participation and the freedom to live and study where one wishes are both founding principles of our society; one should not preclude the other. Most European States have taken steps to safeguard the right to vote of their citizens who may be far away or abroad; however, Italy, Malta and Cyprus still remain notable exceptions to this positive trend.  

Among people who study or work in a city other than their city of residence, nearly 2 million would take more than 4 hours, round trip, to return to their residence, with an average expense of at least 150 euros. Among these people, more than 750,000 are students. 

The imbalance mainly affects southern Italian regions, where more than 1.6 million people no longer live in their municipality of residence. In these areas, the participation rate in elections is the lowest. For example, the overall turnout in Naples was 36.8%, and in Palermo, 42.6% (source: YouTrend). 

Participation in political life is the basic premise of any democracy. We believe that it is not only possible but also necessary for public institutions and HEIs to intervene.  The government’s fall has prevented discussion in Parliament on the issue, but this must become a priority. 

At the moment, voting is a luxury. With the increase in prices for transportation, also due to the pandemic, the average expense of returning to vote in one’s municipality of residence will increase. And these costs are one of the main causes that lead people, including many students and young people, not to exercise their right to vote. 

It is necessary to overcome this problem by providing a solution to fill the regulatory gap. Regardless of the solution that can be identified, removing obstacles to political participation is a fundamental task of the Republic, enshrined in Article 3 of the Constitution. 

For this reason, as European Students’ Union and as Unione degli Universitari (UDU), we demand that:

  • HEIs push forward the need to find as soon as possible a solution that allows all students living in a city other than their city of residence to vote; 
  • The Italian Parliament discuss as soon as possible the draft laws already deposited concerning the vote for non-resident students, to guarantee everyone, the possibility to vote in the next elections

We cannot wait any longer: voting is a right, and as such must be respected!

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