Why do so few UK expats vote?

This question was recently posed on another network citing an article which appeared in the Connexion newspaper. I occasionally contribute to so I duly posted this answer to everyone.

"This is an easy one - WE DON'T LIVE THERE!

I have had this discussion before with other expats who will tell you that what is decided in the UK parliament affects us here. This is also true, however, of Germany, Holland - in fact, most other European countries, but I don't have - or want - the right to vote in those countries either. As a french resident & one who intends to stay that way, the only real choice is to vote in French elections & leave those who wish to cling on to a vote in the old country whilst enjoying the difference of living in another, to do as they wish.

In all the important matters - tax, health, education, etc, it is the decisions made in Paris which will affect me most, not those made in London.

Just saying..."

From the Connexion:-

"Lord Norton of Louth recently spoke up on the issue in the House of Lords debate, saying that though there are probably three million Britons abroad who are still eligible to vote only about 20-30,000 are actually on the electoral register. It is “an appallingly low percentage,” (probably fewer than 1%) he said."

About a dozen people posted replies, some for my view & some against, but what did surprise me was how some of those against were so nasty about it! I was criticised for all kinds of things which were never touched upon in my short answer.

But it is important to keep things in perspective whether you agree or disagree with what is, after all, a personal opinion!

But I am not surprised, just disappointed, when those who do not share my view turn their replies in to a sarcastic & slightly personal attack. Replies like this tend to weaken the sender's case & detract from the point they are trying to make.

One of those who did not agree with me put their point across well & politely, citing the fact that, as pensioners, their money comes from the UK so keeping a UK vote is helpful.

Another pointed out that there may be a referendum in the UK about separating from the EU - a good point indeed but not one I personally take seriously. The same person also makes the point about double taxation which perhaps a french government could do something about? However, these points were made politely.

Then there are those who really ought to write their replies, leave them overnight & reread them in the morning before posting.

Someone who has been here 13 years (to those of us who have been here longer, a "newcomer") accused me of wanting to "put a knife in the back of a country that stiil means a lot to me". Just because I don't see the relevence to me of voting there? I have no UK pension stream to worry over & I do not receive any other benefits from there either.

Then there was the person who thought that I was stabbing the UK in the back & that I ought to keep quiet or tell everyone what is happening in french politics I say that if one chooses to live in a foreign country has one not chosen to do the same thing? You money is spent here, helping the french economy, not the UKs, you pay taxes to the french authorities , you enjoy cheaper fuel, cheaper properties & cheaper prescriptions the accuse ME of wanting to put a knife in the back of a country that still means a lot to you, though not enough, apparently, to make you want to actually LIVE there. This assumption made on the basis that I just don't want to maintain a voting right there. That's quite a leap!

If you want to know what is going on in French politics - you know, the country you actually live in - watch french news or read the papers. Its not down to me to spoon feed the news to people.

Then we have this reply. It might help if he had actually read my post! He says, sarcastically, that he agrees with me but then goes on to say that " We live here, in France, and any changes to UK legislation, rules and regulations will have no effect on our existence here whatsoever." Oh dear, not what I said at all! Of course the UK government affects what goes on in Europe, so does the German, Dutch & ALL EU governments' policies, but we don't demand the right to vote in those countries too.

He mentions having family back in the UK as a reason to keep the vote. Fair enough but my UK resident family also have the right to vote & I'm sure they don't need extra! They might not even share my politics!

If one ever had to return to the UK one day one can always re register.

As for being selfish, well, is it not "one man, one vote" to use or not as one wishes? The whole idea of a vote is that YOU choose what to do with it. It is MY choice not to want to vote in a country I no longer live in & as an unmarried childless man it is the decisions made here which affect me (personally) most.

I have not told anyone not to keep their right to vote in the UK, that is your decision, I have just told you why I, personally, do not wish to.

Finally this man added a jibe at a post I made on a totally unrelated subject which was not only of no relevence, was added as an unrelated, sarcastic & unneccesary jibe at my job!

Which country would you choose to vote in?

Depends on your definition of expat. I am an immigrant in France not an expat, I have no interest in UK politics as it is totally irrelevant and having left there in 1989 have no right anyway. A long term project is to acquire French nationality but as a self employed mum of two kids I have enough demands on my time as unpaid cleaner, cook and taxi;

It does irritate me that I am effectively disenfranchised which probably puts me in the same boat as prisoners, exiles and refugees - interesting point. Surely in the civilised world I should have the right to vote somewhere bearing in mind I earn a living, pay my dues and have not broken any laws?

I was thinking of IDS. I'm sorry that in my moment of silliness I could see only his face & omitted that very important fact. You could of course punch 'em all whilst you're at it 'cos in my opinion there's few politicos that don't deserve a wake up punch ;-)

Vic, I was referring to the election in my constituency Stroud, which is always closely contested.
Whose smarmy face do you mean exactly, I can think of several?

Interesting you should use the analogy of a 'closely fought fight.' I still prefer the idea of punching him in his smarmy face :-)

The recent committee on electoral registration is keen to get more people to register, but are caught in the bind that until more if us register it would not be worthwhile looking at online systems, whilst we feel that if there were an online system more people would vote!

Actually that is not the case Vic. And in the case of a closely fought fight all papers are examined and can be seen by the appointed official of each party.

Trouble with that Jane is that it will be a wasted protest. The counters will just have a good laugh , mutter something like "Silly old bird" & chuck your paper in the bin. Now, if you actually went to England & punched him in the face............... not that I'm condoning violence you understand ;-)

Debra, we are now being given a longer time for the dreaded post to get our votes there on time and you can register on line.

This is a vexed question Mark, as to vote here in France in general elections we would have to take out French nationality, which at the moment I do not want to do.

We are part of the 1% who are registered to vote, mainly because of the reasons which you have mentioned above, but I am seriously considering deliberately spoiling my paper and writing on it that I will not vote Conservative as long as they keep that dishonest Ian Duncan Smith in the government.