NORWAY’s local elections are less than a month away and a rule could see up to 350,000 immigrants legally vote in the Scandinavian country.
The Norwegian local elections will take place on September 9, where voters will elect representatives to municipal and county councils. These are responsible for education, public transport, health and elderly care, and for the levy of certain taxes. But a law in the legal system allows immigrants without a Norwegian passport to cast their votes at local elections.
Approximately 350,000 foreign nationals are entitled to vote in the upcoming election.
The anti-immigration Progress Party politician Sylvi Listhaug last year posted a blog on her Facebook page slamming the law allowing foreign nationals to vote.
She wrote: “Foreign nationals have the right to vote at the next election.
“That people can stay here for a few months and get the right to vote does not make any sense.
“To have the right to vote in Norway, you should be a Norwegian citizen and be obliged to the country to decide on. What do you think?”
In 1978, Nordic citizens were given the right to vote in municipal and county council elections in Norway if they had at least three years of registered residence in Norway.
In 1983, these rights were extended to include all foreign nationals, not just Nordic, if they had three years of residence.
In 1999, Nordic citizens were also given the right to vote if, on March 31 of the election year, they were registered as residents of Norway.
Voting rights in local elections are laid out in the Norwegian election law’s Chapter 2, paragraph 2 and reads: “People who are not Norwegian citizens, but who otherwise fulfil the conditions in section 2-1, have the right to vote if they:
“a) has been in the National Register of Residents of Norway for the last three years before Election Day, or
“b) is a national of another Nordic country and is registered as a resident of Norway by June 30 of the election year.
It continued: “In order to exercise voting rights, the voter must be registered in the electoral register in a municipality on election day.”
The number of 350,000 was discovered by Øyvin Kleven at the Norwegian statistics bureau (SSB) in 2018.
He looked at how many foreign nationals who would have had the right to vote.
“If there had been elections in 2018 around 350,000 people with foreign nationality would have had the right to vote.
However, Mr Kleven added that in recent years there have been no clear and unambiguous immigration and emigration trends with regard to the population that has the right to vote in local elections, making such projections quite uncertain.
Immigrants are not entitled to vote in Norway’s general elections.