Foreigners lose the right to vote in Svalbard

Longyearbyen SvalbardPhoto: Eirik Hodne / Unsplash

Foreigners without a connection to mainland Norway now lose the right to vote and the opportunity to sit on the local council in Svalbard.

The Norwegian government decided on Friday to change the regulations on local council elections, and now it demands three years of residence in a Norwegian mainland municipality for non-Norwegian citizens to have the right to vote and be eligible for election to the local council in Longyearbyen, the newspaper Svalbardposten writes.

The change will take effect immediately and apply to the local elections in 2023.

The only foreigner in the local government on Svalbard is a Swede, and she told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that this is a sad day for Norway.

“Can you call it democracy?”

“Can you call it a democracy when so many fall away?” Olivia Ericson said. She now sits on the local council in Svalbard. She will not be able to be re-elected.

“It will be a very, very small group that will be able to represent everyone,” she said.

More than 700 of Svalbard’s 2,500 inhabitants are affected by the government’s decision.

“It is to maintain the connection of the local government to the mainland and ensure that one has sufficient knowledge of what applies to Svalbard,” Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl (SP) said.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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