Manchester Green Party activists

Manchester Green Party has called for all Manchester residents to be given the right to vote, no matter where they are from. The city’s Green councillors, alongside independent councillor Amna Abdullatif, proposed a motion calling on the government to extend local election rights in England and Northern Ireland to all qualifying foreign nationals, in line with rules in Scotland and Wales.

The motion, passed with Labour backing at a recent Manchester City Council meeting, looked to support the many Mancunians set to lose their right to vote in local elections due to government changes.

Ekua Bayunu, deputy leader of the Green Party on Manchester City Council, said: “All our residents bring infinite value to Manchester, no matter where they were born. 37% of Mancunians were born abroad and 12% are from the European Union (EU). They live, work, study, make use of public services, and call Manchester their home.

“When we charge them council tax, we do not discriminate based on anyone’s nationality. So why should the right to vote which shapes who your representatives are and how your council tax is spent be a privilege reserved to only some nationalities?”

The motion comes in response to the government’s Elections Act, which has brought changes to EU citizens’ voting rights. Currently, all British, Irish, and Commonwealth and EU citizens can vote in local elections, while British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens can vote in all other elections.

Under the Act, all EU citizens who arrived in the UK by the end of 2020 will maintain their right to vote in local elections. However, EU citizens who arrived in the UK from 2021 onwards will only be able to vote if their country of origin has a signed agreement with the UK.

While the Act will not affect voters at this May’s local elections, the changes are set to take effect from June 2024, locking many EU residents out of the ballot box locally. The Greens’ successful motion calls on government to amend the Elections Act and ensure a UK-wide and fair approach to voting rights.

Astrid Johnson, leader of the Greens on Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is home to an exceptionally diverse and vibrant population, which makes this the city people want to call home. That makes it even more important that we all have to thrive to work for ever more democracy.

“The Government needs to work collaboratively with Manchester City Council and voluntary sector organisations to develop a strategy of communications about voter eligibility following the Elections Act.

“The changes to the voting law that we have proposed will make this work easier. We would achieve a higher voter turnout and empower more of our residents.”

The Green Party is the joint opposition party on Manchester City Council. Manchester City Council is made up of 87 Labour members, four Greens, four Liberal Democrats, and one independent.

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