Scottish Greens: ‘Asylum seekers should have right to vote’

Mark Ruskell has urged other MSPs to back an amendment giving asylum seekers the right to vote.

Giving asylum seekers the right to vote would make Scotland a more welcoming country, the Greens have said.

Ahead of a Holyrood debate on extending voting rights on Thursday, Mark Ruskell has urged other MSPs to back their amendment.

The Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill currently proposes giving refugees and foreign nationals the vote at Scottish parliamentary and local elections for the first time.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP welcomed the inclusion of voting rights for refugees but called for the Bill “to go one step further” and include asylum seekers, too.

“Scottish Greens believe that the right to vote should be based on residency rather than citizenship,” he said.

“Everyone aged 16 and over who makes up our communities should have a say in who represents them.

“This transformational approach would see everyone who makes up our communities given a say over who represents them.

“I urge MSPs from across the parties to get behind my amendments and show those seeking sanctuary in Scotland that we truly value their contribution to society.”

The Scottish Refugee Council’s policy officer Lorna Gledhill said: “We welcome the extension of voting rights for Scottish elections but we believe everyone in Scotland should have a say in how the country is run – and this includes people seeking refugee protection.

“People seeking protection come to Scotland for safety, to rebuild their lives and find peace for themselves and their children.

“Like everyone else living here, their lives are affected by decisions made at Holyrood and by local government and, as such, should have the right to express their view on how these decisions are made.”