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Candidacy rights for foreign nationals

Bill passes allowing nationals from certain countries to stand as local councillors.

An electoral reform bill allowing nationals from countries where a relevant treaty has been agreed, including Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain, to become local councillors has been passed by Parliament.

All resident nationals from these countries will be able to stand for election as a councillor in Scotland, even if they only have limited leave to remain and even if that leave is set to expire during their term of office, under the Bill.

This follows changes made in 2020, which ensured all resident nationals from EU countries can vote in local elections and that those with settled status or pre-settled status can stand as candidates in local government elections. The Bill will grant candidacy rights in Scottish local government elections to people from Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain living in Scotland who do not have settled status or pre-settled status in accordance with the treaties covering local election participation.

The Bill also allows Scottish Ministers to add to the list of countries through regulations if further treaties are signed.

Minister for Parliamentary Business George Adam yesterday said:

“This Bill makes a small – but important – change to the law to ensure all nationals of Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain can stand as candidates in Scottish local government elections.

“Scots Law already allows Scotland to go further than most other countries in allowing all resident foreign nationals with any form of leave to remain to vote in Scottish Parliament and Scottish local government elections, but candidacy rights are limited to those with indefinite leave to remain and EU nationals with pre-settled status.

“This is all about open, fair, wide and transparent democracy and I look forward to further debate over the course of the year on a wider expansion of candidacy rights.”


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