• 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rejected earlier this month, but Shindler is determined to fight on and argues that the British government’s view is outdated.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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sudanese 'apostasy' woman flies to Rome
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag (C) poses for a picture with her husband Daniel Wani (L), her newborn baby and the couple's 20-month-old son and her legal team. Photo: HO/AFP

Sudanese 'apostasy' woman flies to Rome

UPDATED: Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, the Sudanese woman who was condemned to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, sparking a global outcry, arrived in Rome with her family on Thursday morning where they will stay for a few days before flying to New York. READ  

 'EU countries must take more boat migrants': UN
A total of 21,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Italy since July 1st. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

'EU countries must take more boat migrants': UN

UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday urged European governments to step up efforts to rescue and host migrants who cross the Mediterranean, as this year's death toll reached 800. READ  

Milan soars in European tourist league
Milan was ranked the 14th most popular destination for travellers. Milan photo: Shutterstock

Milan soars in European tourist league

Milan is the second-fastest growing tourist destination among Europe's major cities, with overnight stays in the capital up 8.2 percent in 2013, new figures show. READ  

Rome ups concert fee after Rolling Stones row
File photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP

Rome ups concert fee after Rolling Stones row

Event organizers wanting to hire out Rome's historic Circus Maximus will now have to pay as much as €200,000 for the pleasure, after the city council upped the fee from the much-criticized €8,000 payed by the Rolling Stones last month. READ  

Robots could take half of jobs in Italy
The study from Brussels think-tank Bruegel found 56.18 percent of jobs in Italy at the moment could be computerized. Robot photo: Shutterstock

Robots could take half of jobs in Italy

More than half of the jobs currently being done in Italy could be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, according to a think-tank. READ  

Italian prison blasted over inmate 'happy hour'
The prison guards' union said a catering service and alcohol were offered to inmates. Happy hour photo: Shutterstock

Italian prison blasted over inmate 'happy hour'

A row has erupted in Milan over prison staff allegedly organizing regular "happy hour" nights for inmates, complete with alcohol and external guests, Italian media reported on Wednesday. READ  

Italians reclaim Giglio after Concordia departs
The Costa Concordia cruise ship is tugged away from Giglio island. Photo: Protezione Civile/AFP

Italians reclaim Giglio after Concordia departs

Italians on the island of Giglio have expressed their relief at the departure of the Costa Concordia cruise ship wreck, which on Wednesday embarked on its journey to a scrapyard in one of the biggest salvage operations in maritime history. READ  

Italians more confident about money matters
Italians are getting more optimistic about money matters, but they remain far more pessimistic than the majority of Europeans. Photo: Shutterstock

Italians more confident about money matters

Consumer confidence in Italy jumped during the second quarter of 2014, one of the highest positive changes in Europe, according to a report released on Tuesday. READ  

Women who eat apples have better sex
Apple photo: Shutterstock

Women who eat apples have better sex

Women who eat an apple a day have better sex, a new Italian study has found. The fruits increase sexual desire, a researcher told The Local. READ  

Bologna to register foreign gay nuptials
Gay marriage photo: Shutterstock

Bologna to register foreign gay nuptials

The mayor of Bologna has paved the way for gay couples to have their foreign nuptials registered in the city, the latest step in a growing movement for same-sex marriage rights in Italy. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Top 10 foreign films made in Italy
International
Ukraine tragedy hits Mogherini's EU hopes
National
'Life in Italy is not how I thought it would be'
Politics
Critics scramble to block Mogherini from EU job
National
'Italy's ginger gene spread from Sicily'
National
'Refugees can contribute positively to Italy'
Society
Hospital to obese patient: Go to a vet instead
Politics
Italy backs controversial Russian gas pipeline
Culture
Ten things tweeters love about Italy
Society
Italy: no place for pets?
Opinion
Why doctors in Italy refuse to give abortions
National
Italy's centre-right leader open to gay unions
National
Top ten reasons Italians hate summer
Politics
Italy under fire over its huge debt
National
Americans taught how to 'rap' Italian gestures
National
How does Italy compare to its EU neighbours?
International
The Italian explorer training astronauts
Travel
Top ten: Italy's gay-friendly holiday hotspots
National
1,900 children languish in Italy's adoption system
Sport
Suarez banned after taking bite out of Italy
Politics
'Europe is without soul': Matteo Renzi
National
Italy battles crescendo of corruption scandals
Society
'Cohabitation is worse sin than murder': priest
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

517
jobs available