Can British people vote in French elections after Brexit?

The next round of elections in France are in March, but Brexit has brought about a few changes for British residents.

Can British people vote in French elections after Brexit?
Will you be able to vote in March? Photos: AFP

The UK has now officially left the EU, but as we now enter a transition period most British people will see few changes in their day-to-day lives for the next 11 months.

But while work, travel, healthcare and residency all continue pretty much as normal until at least December 31st, 2020 there is one thing that changes straight away – voting.

READ ALSO What does the Brexit transition period mean and what should I do now?

As of February 1st, British people are no longer EU citizens and as such lose their rights to vote in certain circumstances.

British people who have their normal residence in France, but who do not have French citizenship, do not have the right to vote in presidential elections.

But as EU citizens they have until now had the right to vote in European elections and municipal elections.

The next round of municipal elections are in March and these are when the French select their local officials – from high-profile and highly funded positions like the Mayor of Paris to the mayors and local councillors in small villages.

But as British people are no longer EU citizens they will not have the right to vote this March.

READ ALSO 'We will miss our British councillors, they bring new ideas to France'

British people are also no longer allowed to stand for office, which means that the several hundred British people currently serving as local councillors will have to step down in March.

Unlike France, which gives its citizens the right to vote for life regardless of where they live, and even has special MPs who represent French people living outside France, the UK limits to voting rights of its citizens who live abroad.

After 15 years living outside the UK, British people lose their right to vote in UK elections, so people who have lived in France for more than 15 years will be left with no voting rights at all.

The only way to get back on the electoral roll in France is to acquire French citizenship.

READ ALSO Brexit: Am I eligible for French citizenship?

On the plus side, France has no restrictions on naturalised French citizens running for office so if you do take French citizenship you could then run for the presidency.

In 2012 Norwegian-born Eva Joly ran for the French presidency as the Green party candidate. She didn't win but France has had a foreign-born Prime Minister – Manuel Valls was born in Barcelona but grew up in France and served as the country's Prime Minister between 2014 and 2016.

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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.