Q&A: What you need to know about taking part in the European elections if you're in Italy

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Q&A: What you need to know about taking part in the European elections if you're in Italy
the UK will now be taking part in European elections after all. Photo Depositphotos

The European election vote on 23-26 May is expected to be one of the most important in the European Union’s history. Here’s why it matters and how you can get involved.


What’s so important about this year’s vote?

For the first time, the idea of ​​Europe and of the EU as we know it could be set to change drastically based on the European election results.

Many political commentators expect Eurosceptic parties to make big gains this time, causing a big change in the distribution of power in a future European parliament.

In the past three years Brexit and anti-European rhetoric elsewhere has polarised opinion among voters across the continent.

While there's no public appetite in Italy for actually leaving the EU, League leader Matteo Salvini is one of the loudest voices among European right-wing populists saying they want to "create a new Europe" more to their liking.

And for Brits, the European election is seen as a chance to protest the government's handling of Brexit and to voice support for remaining in the European Union.

When is the election?

Italy, like most countries, will vote on Sunday May 26th. Polling day varies from country to country.

The results won't be announced until polls close in the last countries to vote, one of which is Italy.

Is the UK taking part or not?

The European elections were not supposed to involve the UK given that they were due to leave the EU on March 29th, and then on April 12th.

However the latest Brexit delay - the new date is now October 31st - means the UK will very likely still be a member come May 23rd unless PM Theresa May can somehow do the impossible and get parliament to back her deal, in which case the UK can leave.

If not, the UK will be obliged to field candidates to be elected to the European Parliament and importantly, British citizens (although not all of them) would be allowed a vote.

UK candidates are already announcing their participation - although the government has yet to officially confirm that the country is taking part. Confusing? Just a little. We'll keep you updated.

I live abroad – which country do I vote in?

Most European citizens can vote from outside their home country (and even outside the EU), with the exception of a few countries including Malta and Ireland where citizens are not allowed to vote while abroad.

In theory, everyone else can choose.

While you don't necessarily need to be a citizen of the country you are living in to cast your vote in European elections, you will need to register with electoral authorities in the country where you live then apply to have your name put on the electoral roll.

Of course, you can only vote once.

As the EU parliament website puts it: “you either vote in your country of origin or in your new host country, not both."

I’m British – can I vote for UK candidates from abroad?

We’re still European citizens for the moment (and don’t let any confused officials at your local comune forget it.)

The deadline for voter registration for EU elections is May 7th if you decide to vote in the UK. If you wanted to vote in Italy, you needed to register back in February.

You'll need to register for either a postal vote or a proxy vote (where you get someone who lives in the UK, either a family member or a friend) to cast a vote on your behalf. You will need to register for either option on the British government website.

Because of a controversial British law however you can't vote in the UK if you have been out of the country for more than 15 years.

Why should I vote in the UK if I don't live there?

Though European election turnout in the UK has traditionally been low, this is expected to change this time.

The vote is seen as a chance for many Brits to register their anger at the British government over the Brexit mess.

While British voters still look a long way from being given the chance to vote in a second referendum, the European elections are increasingly being seen as a way voters can at least punish those individuals and parties who backed Brexit, and to show their desire to remain part of Europe.

I'd rather vote in Italy. Can I vote here if I’m not an Italian citizen?

If you're a resident and you're already registered to vote here, then yes. The bad news is that if you're not an Italian citizen the deadline to register was in February.

According to the European parliament: “As an EU national, you can vote under the same conditions as nationals of the country where you live.”

“If nationals are required to have lived in the country for a certain period to be allowed to vote, the same conditions will apply to you.”

So where and how do we vote from Italy?

Votes take place in local polling stations, which are indicated on the electoral card you should receive. You'll need to bring the electoral card and ID with you on the day in order to vote.

For more information, visit the European Union website.



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