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French favour voting rights for foreigners: poll

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French favour voting rights for foreigners: poll
Clementine Gallot (File)
10:59 CET+01:00

A clear majority of French people want to give non-EU foreigners the right to vote in local elections, a recent poll shows. The ruling right-wing party disagrees.

61 percent of the French support the Socialist Party in their proposal to give foreigners from outside the European Union a right to vote, a Le Parisien poll shows. 75 percent of the left-wing electorate also support voting rights for foreigners.

Socialists control the French Senate and have tabled a bill to allow foreigners voting rights in local elections.

They suggest giving voting rights to foreigners who have been living in France for over five years and have working papers. Foreigners from the European Union already have such voting rights.

However the ruling right-wing UMP party opposes extending rights to non-EU foreigners. French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week said only French and EU citizens should be allowed to vote because they share a common destiny.

In 2005, Sarkozy had come out in favour of extending voting rights to non-EU citizens. This has led many commentators in France to accuse him of changing his mind to attract more hardline right-wing voters ahead of elections in 2012.

The Socialist Party wants foreigners to be allowed to stand for elections and become local councillors. However, they should not be allowed to become mayor or deputy mayor. The bill is set to be overturned by the National Assembly, which is controlled by the UMP.

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