Foreigners in Sweden: How to vote in the EU election

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Foreigners in Sweden: How to vote in the EU election
A voter submits their ballot paper in the 2014 EU election. Photo: Drago Prvulovic / TT

The elections to the European Parliament are the only chance to directly impact who it is that makes decisions on EU law that affect Sweden and the whole of the EU. So how do you know if you're eligible, and how do you actually vote? Here are the answers to five key questions.


What is the election?

You can vote for members of the European Parliament, the body which decides EU law which then applies in Sweden and other countries in the bloc.

There are currently 751 members of the EU Parliament, including 20 from Sweden – the number of MEPs from each country is decided based on population size.

The elections take place between Thursday, May 23rd, and Sunday, May 26th, depending on what country you are in. Preliminary results are expected to be announced later that night.

In Sweden, voting day is Sunday, May 26th, and polling stations will be open between 8am and 8pm. 

READ ALSO: Swedish ballot-casting not secret enough, OSCE report says

Am I eligible to vote in Sweden?

There are two categories of people who are eligible to vote in Sweden for the European elections.

All Swedish citizens who are aged at least 18 on election day and who are either currently resident in Sweden or have previously been registered resident in Sweden (even if you're currently resident outside the EU), are eligible.

You can also vote if you're a citizen of another EU country, aged at least 18 on election day, and registered as resident in Sweden at least 30 days before the election, as long as you do not also intend to vote in your home country. If you have a personnummer, you are registered as resident. 

In this case, you need to submit a request to be included on the electoral roll (using this form) and if you do this, you can't vote in any other member state in this election. You need to be registered to vote in Sweden by April 26th in order to vote in these elections.


Am I eligible to vote in my home country?

If you are a citizen of another EU country and have not registered to be on the electoral roll in Sweden, you are usually eligible to vote in your home country. 

In some cases, you may be eligible to vote only in your home country and not in Sweden. For example, in Austria, the voting age is 16 and in Greece it is 17. And a few countries (the Czech Republic, Ireland, Malta and Slovakia) limit voting rights to citizens who have moved overseas, so you may not be eligible to vote there. Other countries may have time limits on how long you can live overseas and continue to vote in your home country. The safest thing to do if you want to vote in your home country is check with your embassy whether you're eligible.

Voting cards in Sundbyberg, north of Stockholm in the 2014 EU election. Photo: Pontus Lundahl / TT

If you are eligible and choose to vote in your home country rather than in Sweden, you will need to be registered to vote with the authorities in your home country (make sure to check if you need to re-register). Make sure to do this before the registration deadline, which differs from country to country.

You will likely be able to cast your vote by post, proxy, or at an embassy or consulate in Sweden. You should also ensure you have been removed from the electoral roll in Sweden, if you've previously been included on it – to do that, fill out this form.

Again, remember you can only vote in one country.

What about Brits?

The UK was not scheduled to participate in EU elections because of the previously scheduled date of Brexit on March 29th. However, the UK and EU agreed on an extension and Britain remains a member of the bloc until October 31st, and on May 7th, the UK formally confirmed its participation in the elections. 

This means many Brits in Sweden will be able to choose whether to vote in Sweden or the UK, although only Brits who have lived overseas less than 15 years have the option to vote in the UK.

In order to be able to vote in the elections if the UK does take part, you need to register to vote there by May 7th, if you're not already on the electoral roll (you don't need to re-register for every election). You can do that here

BREXIT NEWS: Keep up to date on how Brexit will affect British citizens in Sweden here

How do I vote?

Polling stations in Sweden will be open between 8am and 8pm on Sunday, May 26th. In some locations, it will also be possible to participate in 'early voting' from May 8th. You can find ballot stations which will be open for early voting here.

Those who are eligible to vote should have received a letter from the Swedish Election Authority in March, including the information you need in order to vote. You can also find this information in a variety of European languages here.

If you're voting in Sweden, you should receive a polling card in the post in the first week of May, which will state which polling station you need to go to. Taking the polling card with you is essential if you vote early, and although it's not essential if you vote on May 26th, it can save time when you get there. Whether you vote early or on May 26th, ID is essential.

In the Swedish vote, you can either vote for a specific person (by putting a cross by the person's name or, if there are only blank voting slips left, writing the name of the person and party you want to vote for) or for a party (by using a voting slip for that party, or writing the party name on a blank voting slip).

IN DEPTH: How robust is Swedish democracy? (Clue: not very)


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