Hopes that British expats would have the right to vote in French national elections appear to have been dashed after the country’s President Francois Hollande stepped back from an election promise.
Last year, when he was on the Presidential election trail, Mr Hollande promised that expats from outside the European Union and living in France would be given the right to vote in local and regional elections.
The reform would bring France into line with most of Europe.
This move was also seen as a first step in allowing EU expats in the country to get the right to vote in France’s national elections since they can already vote in regional and European elections.
However, a proposal to change the law will not now be put before the French National Assembly before next year’s municipal elections.
Mr Hollande said: “The text for the law has not been submitted because the opposition is against it and I don’t want to be seen to be pushing the issue before the municipal elections next year.”
He said that after the elections are over there would be no issue and the law will be submitted for adoption if the country’s MPs vote for it.
This has been a long-running saga for expats in France.
The proposal to give all expats the right to vote in national elections was first proposed by President Mitterrand in the early 80s.
The French currently abide by the rules laid down in the Maastricht Treaty which say that all citizens of an EU member state who are resident in the country must be allowed to vote in local and European elections.
A move to allow all expats the right to vote in those elections would need constitutional reform.
Campaigners had believed that the move to change the law would also give British expats the right to vote the country’s national elections.
This is a hot topic in France since British expats lose the right to vote in UK elections after 15 years and campaigners say they are effectively disenfranchised at a national level and their voices are not heard.
France is one of the few countries that have MPs directly elected to the Assembly by French expats living overseas in a system that appears to work well.
Meanwhile, there is some good news for expats living in France from outside the European Union.
The country is planning to switch from issuing one year visas to implementing four year visas in a bid to clear a backlog and help make life easier for the large expat population.
Officials say that since only 1% of visa applications are refused they could save a lot of money in administering the new visa system.