Suffrage Universel
le droit de vote des étrangers


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La participation politique des allochtones (personnes d'origine étrangère) au Danemark
Political participation of people with a foreign background in Denmark

Le Danemark, société plurielle
Denmark, a plural society

Voting rights of Danes abroad and of foreigners in Denmark

Les territoires extérieurs du Danemark

Le processus de démocratisation du Danemark

Liens vers d'autres sites
Links to other sites

Danske indvandrerpolitikere (in Danish/en danois)

Copenhagen Post (in English)

Revue de presse quotidienne de l'Ambassade de France à Copenhague (en français)


Voting rights of Danes abroad and of foreigners in Denmark

source: Danish Interior Ministry, 1996

The Constitution states the franchise requirements as: (1) Danish citizenship, (2) permanent residence in the realm, and (3) the voting age prescribed by law (18, since 1978). Furthermore, a prospective voter must not have been declared legally incompetent.

The residence requirement has since 1970 been construed to the effect that employees of the Danish state working abroad fulfil the residence requirement. Furthermore, since 1980 the requirement has also been construed in such a way that employees of Danish private companies working abroad, people working in international organisations of which Denmark is a member, or Danish aid or relief organisations, students studying abroad, or people living abroad for health reasons - as well as their spouses - are all considered to have fulfilled the residence requirement, provided that their stay abroad is not permanent. [ According to the practice of a special board ("the Franchise Board"), this means less than 12-13 years. ]

The residence requirement of the Constitution does not allow the extension of franchise to all Danes living abroad.

It is a prerequisite for voting that the prospective voter is registered in the electoral register (the voters’ list). The computerized electoral register is based on information already available in the national civil registration system (also administered by the Ministry of the Interior), to which the municipal authorities continuously convey basic, administratively relevant information about citizens, including the acquisition of voting rights, changes of address, and death. Thus, inclusion on the electoral register - and changes due to change of residence, etc. - takes place automatically and continuously. As a result, the register is permanently updated, and only people living abroad, i.e. the various groups mentioned above, have to take the initiative. They have to send a request to be on the register to the municipality where they were permanent residents before going abroad.

A printout of the permanently updated, computerized electoral register is made, with 18 days prior to an election as the reference day. Prospective voters who move to the country after this date cannot be included in the register before election day and are therefore not allowed to vote. Persons who move to another municipality less than 18 days before a general election remain on the electoral register of the initial municipality until after election day. Changes in the electoral register because of (1) emigration, (2) death, (3) issue (or withdrawal) of declarations of legal incompetence, and (4) people losing or obtaining Danish citizenship, which are reported to the local authorities less than 18 days before an election, are entered manually in the electoral register printout.

The electoral register is not published for inspection and it is not accessible either for the public in general, or for the political parties.

One week prior to polling day, the municipal authorities send all voters a poll card to be used in connection with polling. The cards have to be delivered to voters not later than five days before election day. Through nationwide advertisements in newspapers ten days before election day the Ministry of the Interior tries to attract the attention of voters to inform them about the distribution of poll cards. The advertisements also inform voters who do not receive a poll card of how to complain to the relevant municipal authorities. In this way, erroneous omissions from the electoral register can be corrected. Poll cards are not sent to voters abroad.

The poll card is printed on the basis of the electoral register. It contains the following items: the voter’s name and address, his/her serial number in the electoral register, the location of the voter’s polling station, the date of the election, and the opening hours of the polling station. These items correspond to those of the electoral register, apart from the voter’s birthday, which is not printed on the poll card.

The above description mentions that some Danish citizens living abroad are allowed to participate in general elections (and elections to the European Parliament and referendums as well). At the September 1994 election, 6,172 voters (0.2 per cent of the total electorate) were living abroad. Foreign citizens living in Denmark, on the other hand, are not allowed to participate in general elections. Furthermore, the Constitutional requirement of citizenship prevents changing this part of the parliamentary election law.

By contrast, the municipal election law bestows voting rights (and the right to stand as a candidate) not only to Danish citizens resident in the municipality in question [ Or county, when election to county councils are concerned.] but also to foreign citizens on the additional condition that they have been resident in the realm for three years prior to election day. At the November 1993 local elections, 97,694 voters (2.4 per cent of the total electorate) were foreign citizens. In March 1995 the municipal election law was changed to the effect that starting from the next local elections (i.e., in 1997) citizens from the other countries in the European Union as well as citizens from the other Nordic countries will enjoy voting rights and the right to stand as candidates on the same basis as Danish citizens (i.e., without the 3-year residence requirement). Foreign citizens from other countries will, however, remain subject to the 3-year residence requirement.

Danish citizens living in any EU country as well as citizens from the other EU countries resident in Denmark have voting rights in the quinquennial elections to the European Parliament. All EU citizens can also stand as candidates. Since Greenland and the Faroe Islands are not part of the European Union, their inhabitants do not possess voting rights in these elections.


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Suffrage Universel
le droit de vote des étrangers