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    India to allow expat vote as Irish interest grows

    By Noreen Bowden | January 8, 2010

    India is working to join the 115 countries around the world that allow their expats to vote.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday told the 1,500 delegates attending the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas gathering of the Indian diaspora that he hopes that the government will be able to facilitate non-resident Indians (NRIs) voting in the next general election.

    “I recognise the legitimate desire of Indians living abroad to exercise their franchise and to have a say in who governs India,” he said.

    “We are working on this issue and I sincerely hope that they will get a chance to vote by the time of the next regular general elections. In fact, I would go a step further and ask why more overseas Indians should not return home to join politics and public life as they are increasingly doing in business and academia.”

    The Indian move is part of a growing international trend to allow expats a voice in their home political systems. India’s engagement with its diaspora has frequently been cited by Irish policy-makers as an example of good practice, so it will be interesting to see what impact the granting of voting rights to NRIs will have on the debate here.

    Although perhaps “debate” is too strong a word. As Mary Hickman stated at the recent Irish Diaspora Seminar hosted by UCD in London, the issue of emigrant voting rights is taboo in Ireland. As the Irish Post reports this week, however, it is attracting rising interest among emigrants. With the recent upsurge in emigration and increased public discourse on the issue of political reform, it seems likely that the issue of Irish emigrant voting rights will take on greater importance in the future.

    And although nearly every country in Europe and most in the developed world already allow emigrant voting rights, India’s leadership in the arena of diaspora engagement will make its granting of expat voting rights difficult to ignore.

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    One Response to “India to allow expat vote as Irish interest grows”

    1. lorcan Says:
      January 10th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

      Indeed, India is well-known and admired for its diaspora management. I’m surprised they weren’t already able to vote in fact – makes it even more impressive.

      A lot has changed in the last 10 years, hopefully non-resident voting is no longer taboo and Ireland is more open to drawing on the experiences of other EU member states as well as emerging economies in this area. And the sooner the better, to ensure the participation of the many recent emigrants.