• Italy edition
 
The Local Interview
'We will win like the Suffragettes'
Harry Shindler has lived in Italy since the 1980s. Photo: The right to vote campaign

'We will win like the Suffragettes'

Published: 20 Sep 2013 15:07 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Sep 2013 15:07 GMT+02:00

“We had a war to bring back the vote to the people of Europe,” says Shindler, who was at the liberation of Rome in 1944.

The 93-year-old emigrated to Italy nearly 40 years later. As a European citizen he has the right to live in Italy, but he cannot vote in the country’s national elections without becoming an Italian citizen.

Many foreigners living in Italy face the same restriction and vote in their home country.

But for British people, once they have been living abroad for 15 years they are effectively cut off from the country’s democracy as they lose their voting rights.

Shindler has spent the past 12 years fighting to get his vote back, taking the case to British MPs and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

He lost his case at the ECHR in May and saw his appeal rejected earlier this month, but Shindler is determined to fight on and argues that the British government’s view is outdated.

“There’s no question that we’ve loosened our ties to the country. We have family and friends in the UK, we go backwards and forwards. I can get to London quicker by plane than an MP can from [the English city] Carlisle,” he tells The Local.

Furthermore, Shindler says that decisions continue to be taken by the British government which directly affect him - and other citizens who have lost their voting rights - over which he has no control. The 93-year-old draws a British pension, for example, while other expats pay tax in the UK.

Although he cannot get his vote back through the ECHR, Shindler has been busy campaigning in Brussels. On September 5th he and a number of other British expats met Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, to discuss the issue.

“There are Brits all over Europe campaigning for this; at the end of the day, we will get the vote,” he says confidently.

Meanwhile, Shindler has been preparing the case to present to the UN. The British government’s law goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he says, which declares that everyone has the right to participate in their government.

Shindler likens the expat campaign to that of the Suffragettes, who won women the right to vote in 1918. “Ladies organized and won the right to vote. We will do the same.

“The small men who deny us the vote will be forgotten, but we will have the vote.”

Shindler hopes he will have his voting rights back in time for the UK’s general election in 2015, almost a century after the Suffragettes won their battle.

Don't want to miss a story about Italy? - Then join The Local Italy on Facebook and Twitter.

Rosie Scammell (rosie.scammell@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Italy's poverty rate fell slightly in 2013
The number of residents whose monthly spending is less than €800 remains high. Poverty photo: Shutterstock

Italy's poverty rate fell slightly in 2013

Over a quarter of residents in Italy faced poverty or social exclusion last year, but the number of people at risk of poverty is falling across the country, new statistics show. READ  

Mummified body found in Modena hospital
The body was found at a hospital in Modena (not pictured). Photo: Hospital image: Shutterstock

Mummified body found in Modena hospital

A mummified body, believed to belong to a patient who went missing in 2011, has been found at Baggiovara hospital in Modena, northern Italy. READ  

Terror at Eataly as two employees stabbed
The man allegedly stabbed two colleagues at Eataly in Rome. Photo: Eataly

Terror at Eataly as two employees stabbed

A cook and security guard were stabbed at Rome’s gourmet Italian food store, Eataly, on Thursday afternoon, allegedly by a colleague who reportedly “went wild” following a row with the cook. READ  

Rip-off Rome taxi driver robs tourists' luggage
The German woman and her daughter took a taxi to Rome's Via Veneto. Taxi photo: Shutterstock

Rip-off Rome taxi driver robs tourists' luggage

A Rome taxi driver charged a German woman and her daughter €100 for a ride from the airport and then sped off with one of their bags, containing possessions worth €10,000, Italian media reported on Thursday. READ  

Births in Southern Italy at lowest rate since 1861
Italy has one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe. Baby photo: Shutterstock

Births in Southern Italy at lowest rate since 1861

The birth rate in southern Italy hit a historic low last year, the lowest registered figure since 1861, figures from a new report show. READ  

Pompeii: Canadian gives back relic after 50 years
The relic was stolen from Pompeii's theatre. Photo: John McLinden

Pompeii: Canadian gives back relic after 50 years

A repentent Canadian woman has given back a relic she stole from the ancient ruins of Pompeii in 1964. READ  

Italian oil giant posts profit rise
Italy's oil and gas giant Eni achieved a rise in net profit in the third quarter despite a drop in production and falling oil prices. Photo: Luca Mascaro

Italian oil giant posts profit rise

Italy's oil and gas giant Eni achieved a 2.5-percent rise in net profit in the third quarter, it said on Thursday despite a drop in production and falling oil prices. READ  

Filming Sky's mafia show in mob villa a 'mistake'
The mansion is in Torre Annunziata, south of Naples. Photo: Xocolatl/Wikimedia Commons

Filming Sky's mafia show in mob villa a 'mistake'

The decision to film the Sky TV series, Gomorra, in a mobster’s mansion - and paying €30,000 for the privilege - was “a mistake”, the show's producer has admitted. READ  

Faster internet among Italy's project proposals
Investment in ultra-broadband is among the proposals set to be submitted by Italy to the EU. Broadband image: Shutterstock

Faster internet among Italy's project proposals

Speeding up internet connection in Italy is among the 1,000 investment project proposals set to be submitted to the European Union, Italy’s Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Thursday. READ  

JobTalk Italy
Life as an elite Vatican Swiss Guard
David Geisser has also authored a cookbook filled with popes' favourite recipes. Photo: David Geisser

Life as an elite Vatican Swiss Guard

Despite being better known today for their colourful uniforms than their reputation as fearless warriors, the Swiss Guards have been a powerful symbol of the Vatican for centuries. The Local speaks to David Geisser, one of the latest recruits, about a career protecting popes. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
Politics
Quiz: How well do you know Italian politics?
Culture
Ten Rome baristas who brighten your day
Business & Money
Italy bows to EU pressure over budget
Travel
Ten of the best students bars in Rome
National
'Italy is the real sick man of Europe'
Society
Semi-clad tourists dance in priceless fountain
National
Singing nun picks Like a Virgin for debut album
National
Where's the best place to live in Italy?
National
Amorous Italian couple get stuck in frolic at sea
Culture
Test your Italian history with The Local's quiz
Travel
Top ten: Travel warnings for Italy
International
Revealed: The cost of home comforts in Italy
Health
Nurse 'killed 38 patients for being annoying'
Culture
Breaking Balsamic: See US writer's potent parody
Opinion
Is Italy a desirable place for foreigners to work?
Culture
Top ten: Things Italian mothers say
Society
Mayors vow to defy gay marriage registration ban
Travel
How well do you know Italy's geography?
National
Ten Italian 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
Italian student tipped to win British X-Factor
Business & Money
Italy ranked ninth most desirable place to work
Education
Why Milan uni's English switch opened minds
National
The small Sicilian town with nine centenarians
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
National
President's barber: €99k state snippers overpaid
National
Is Italy really a bad place to grow old?
Education
Pisa storms into global uni rankings
National
Unruly Italy is EU's most disobedient country
National
Italy among worst places in EU to grow old
Travel
Brit in bid to set Milan metro travel record
International
Marriage scam: 179 Italian couples claim to live in British mail box
Politics
Italy's state barbers' pay trimmed...to €99,000
Politics
eBay users snub Italy’s luxury official cars
National
Udder joy: Italian man is world's best cow-milker
Business & Money
Chinese fashion titans look to Italy for value
National
Clooney wedding 'good news for the Middle East'
National
QUIZ: Test your Italian language skills
Education
Italy top of the class for teaching English
National
Italians offered €30 a day to host a migrant
Tech
Azerbaijan beats Italy in internet stakes
Society
Marriage scrapped due to 'mummy's boy' husband
Politics
Italy separatists unfazed by Scotland's 'no'
Culture
Ten 'rude' Italian phrases you can get away with
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

662
jobs available