The Right to Vote and Restrictions on Eligibility: a Critical Assessment of the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

The talk considers the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on voting eligibility and the interpretation of Article 3 of the Protocol I of the ECHR (A3P1). This jurisprudence has not clearly distinguished between the desirable level of scrutiny, on one hand, for questions relating to the choice of electoral systems and, on the other, for questions relating to voting eligibility. It is contended that, even if Contracting States should enjoy a wide 'margin of appreciation' on grounds of democratic legitimacy regarding their choice of electoral system, such a margin is unwarranted when Strasbourg scrutinises legislation that affects individual access to the democratic process. It is submitted that, in its voting eligibility jurisprudence, especially regarding the disenfranchisement of convicts and of non-resident citizens, the Court has been timid rather than interventionist. Furthermore, its restrictive, literal interpretation of A3P1 has effectively, even if unintentionally, set a 'ceiling' for the protection of the right to vote in the UK. This is due to the combined effect of the prevalent reliance by UK courts on the 'mirror' principle, and to the absence of a codified constitutional right to vote in the UK constitutional order. As a result, A3P1-based legal challenges to the proposed franchise in the forthcoming referendum on the UK's continued membership of the EU are unlikely to succeed. Finally, the latest CJEU judgment in Delvigne demonstrates that Strasbourg's jurisprudence also affects the scope of protection of voting rights under EU law.

Dr. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Reading and a member of the Global Law at Reading research group (GLAR). He is Editor-in-Chief of the Working Paper Series, Refugee Law Initiative at the University of London; a Research Associate of the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford; Academic Fellow, the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple; and Convenor of the Society of Legal Scholars Civil Liberties & Human Rights Section. Ruvi is also a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, analysing the treatment of African asylum seekers in Israel as part of the Institute's Democratic Principles project. Ruvi's areas of research interest include Citizenship & Electoral Rights, International Refugee Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, and International Humanitarian Law. His forthcoming book, 'Voting Rights of Refugees', will be published by Cambridge University Press.

This lecture is free and open to public.

RSVP by Wednesday 18 November 2015

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The event's flyer is available here.


Presented by

Centre for European Studies

ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

ANU College of Law

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Date & time

Thu 19 Nov 2015, 12am – Fri 20 Nov 2015, 12am


ANU College of Law, Lecture Theatre 2, 6a Fellows Road, ANU Acton, ACT 2601


Dr. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler University of Reading


02 6125 9896


Updated:  9 December 2015/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications