200,000 expats to vote in local elections

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In Belgium there are some 1.3 million people of foreign extraction in Belgium who are likely to vote in the October poll.

Belgium is one of the rare countries where voting is obligatory and all Belgians are obliged to vote or face an administrative fine.

The voting requirement also affects some 1.1 million people of foreign descent who have acquired Belgian nationality. There will now be the nationals of other countries – estimated at 200,000 – who are expected to register. 

Research conducted by sociologist Jan Hertogen indicates that a further 200,000 foreigners both from inside and outside the European Union will register to take part in the poll. By registering the foreigners will be treated in the same way as Belgians and will be obliged to vote too. 

The number of people of foreign extraction expected to take part in the local elections is twice the number that took part in the second but last poll in 2000. By 2018 one in five voters is expected to belong to the ethnic minorities.

Today there are still major regional variations: in West Flanders only 3.8% of voters hail from the ethnic minorities, while in the Brussels Region the figure rises to 62.3%.