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Exercising Your Voting Rights in Belgium: A Comprehensive Guide for Non-Belgians and Young Voters

Updated: Feb 1

In Belgium, the right to vote is a fundamental aspect of the democratic process, and it is not limited solely to Belgian citizens. Whether you're a non-Belgian resident or a young voter eager to participate in the electoral process, there are opportunities for you to make your voice heard in the upcoming elections. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the important details you need to know about voting in Belgium.

1. Voting as a Non-Belgian Resident

One might think that only Belgian citizens can vote, but that's not the case. If you are a non-Belgian resident, you also have the opportunity to participate in elections. Here's how:

Municipal Elections (October 13, 2024)

  • Non-Belgians can vote in municipal elections. This means that you have a say in local matters that directly affect your community.

  • As an EU citizen, you must be a registered resident of a Belgian municipality to enroll for the municipal elections. You need to be registered in the population or foreign nationals' register before August 1, 2024.

  • As a non-EU citizen, you must have been a registered resident of a Belgian municipality for at least 5 years to be able to vote in the municipal elections.

European Elections (June 9, 2024)

If you are an EU citizen living in Belgium, you can participate in the European elections. This gives you the opportunity to choose representatives for the European Parliament.

The main condition is that you must be registered in the population register or the foreign nationals' register before March 31, 2024.

  • As an EU citizen, you can choose between voting for the European list for your country of origin or the European list of Belgian electoral candidates. You cannot choose both lists and will therefore have to make a choice.

  • If you choose to vote for the European list of candidates from your country of origin, you must register for the European elections through your embassy.

  • If you choose to vote for the European list of Belgian candidates, you can register through your municipality.

  • Registration is essential: It's important to note that the right to vote does not automatically apply to non-Belgian residents. To exercise this right, you must register as a voter. Don't wait; take the initiative and register yourself to make your vote count.

2. Voting as a Young Voter (Ages 16-17)

Young voters, even those as young as 16, have the chance to engage in the democratic process:

  • European Elections (June 9, 2024): Both Belgian citizens and EU citizens aged 16 and above can cast their votes in the European elections. This empowers young voices to influence EU policies.

  • No Automatic Rights: Young voters should be aware that their right to vote doesn't happen automatically. To participate, you must register as a voter, just like any other eligible citizen.

3. The "I ALSO VOTE" Campaign

A vital initiative called "I ALSO VOTE" aims to encourage all potential voters, including non-Belgians and young voters, to take part in elections. This campaign was initially launched during the 2018 local elections and continues to inspire participation.

5. Additional Information

While much of the information provided here is up-to-date, it's important to note that there is no longer a compulsory voting requirement in Flemish municipalities. This means you have the freedom to choose whether or not to vote in these areas.

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