Most EU citizens could not vote in the referendum. Yet, we are among the most affected by its outcome, Alexandra Bulat writes.
First published in October 2019.
EU citizens are again in the middle of the political discussion. “Gerrymandering”, says a commentator. “Half of Somalia would sign up”, claims another one. As usual, we are spoken about, rather than spoken to.
As an EU migrant, I want to vote at home. And home is in the UK.
I left Romania three months after having the right to vote at 18. I voted in an election and a referendum there because my friends did. I did not follow politics then and I still don’t follow Romanian politics now.
I do follow UK politics every single day. I studied it. I wrote about it.
I have the right to vote in Romania but I have not voted there once since I moved to the UK, 7 years ago. I cannot justify voting somewhere I do not even know the names of the main parties. I also cannot justify voting somewhere I have not even visited for 6 years.
Everyone has their individual circumstances. I support British people abroad having votes for life. Most people are affected by decisions taken by their country of origin – they often have property there, pay various taxes, have family in education, are using healthcare, etc.
But for me, there is no doubt I should personally vote where my life is, where I rent, work, study, where my partner is and where I actually follow what’s happening in politics.
Apart from not feeling secure with the Settled Status, I am applying for citizenship so I can have a say. Unlike other countries, access to citizenship in the UK is much more difficult. First of all, the application fee alone is £1,330 (that does not include the test fees, your travel to the test centres, documents translation if you need them, the actual passport at the end, etc.)
I could easily say ‘just apply for citizenship like I do if you want to vote in general elections’. But precisely because I am applying for citizenship, I can see how this is not an option for everyone (not to mention that some countries don’t allow dual nationality).
Most EU citizens could not vote in the referendum. Yet, we are among the most affected by its outcome: we have to apply to stay in our homes despite promises that nothing would change.
The stronger our voice, the less we’ll be merely spoken about by others.🔷
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