Suffrage

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Suffrage universel dédié à Ledru-Rollin, Frédéric Sorrieu, 1850

Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, distinct from other rights to vote, is the right to vote gained through the democratic process. In English, suffrage and its synonyms are sometimes also used to mean the right to run for office (to be a candidate), but there are no established qualifying terms to distinguish between these different meanings of the term(s). The right to run for office is sometimes called (candidate) eligibility, and the combination of both rights is sometimes called full suffrage.[1] In many other languages, the right to vote is called the active right to vote and the right to be voted for (to run for office) is called the passive right to vote. In English, these are sometimes called active suffrage and passive suffrage.[2]

Suffrage is often conceived in terms of elections for representatives; however, suffrage applies equally to initiative and referendum. Suffrage describes not only the legal right to vote, but also the practical question of whether a question will be put to a vote. The utility of suffrage is reduced when important questions are decided unilaterally by elected or non-elected representatives.

In most democracies, eligible voters can vote in elections of representatives. Voting on issues by initiative may be available in some jurisdictions but not others. For example, Switzerland permits initiatives at all levels of government whereas the United States does not offer initiatives at the federal level or in many states. That new constitutions must be approved by referendum is considered natural law.[citation needed]

Citizens become eligible to vote after reaching the voting age, which is typically 18 years as of 2012. Most democracies no longer extend different rights to vote on the basis of sex or race. Resident aliens can vote in some countries and in others exceptions are made for citizens of countries with which they have close links (e.g. some members of the Commonwealth of Nations, and the members of the European Union).

Contents

Types of suffrage

Universal suffrage

Where Universal suffrage exists, the right to vote is not restricted by gender, race, social status, or wealth. It typically does not extend a right to vote to all residents of a region; distinctions are frequently made in regard to citizenship, age, and occasionally mental capacity or criminal convictions.

The short-lived Corsican Republic (1755–1769) was the first country to grant limited universal suffrage for all inhabitants over the age of 25. This was followed by other experiments in the Paris Commune of 1871 and the island republic of Franceville (1889). In 1893, New Zealand became the first major nation to achieve universal suffrage, and the Freedom in the World index lists New Zealand as the only free country in the world in 1893.[3][4] In 1906, Finland became the second country in the world, and the first in Europe, to grant universal suffrage to its citizens.[5]

Women's suffrage

German election poster from 1919: Equal rights - equal duties!

Women's suffrage is the right of women to vote on the same terms as men. This was the goal of the suffragists and the suffragettes. Limited voting rights were gained by some women in Sweden, Britain, and some western U.S. states in the 1860s. In 1893, the British colony of New Zealand became the first self-governing nation to extend the right to vote to all adult women. In 1894 the women of South Australia achieved the right to both vote and stand for Parliament. The autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in the Russian Empire was the first European nation to allow all women to both vote and run for parliament.[6]

Equal suffrage

Equal suffrage is sometimes confused with Universal suffrage, although its meaning is the removal of graded votes, where a voter could possess a number of votes in accordance with income, wealth or social status.[7]

Census suffrage

Also known as "censitary suffrage", the opposite of Equal suffrage, meaning that the votes cast by those eligible to vote are not equal, but are weighed differently according to the person's rank in the census (e.g., people with high income have more votes than those with a small income, or a stockholder in a company with more shares has more votes than someone with fewer shares). Suffrage may therefore be limited, usually to the propertied classes, but can still be universal, including, for instance, women or ethnic minorities, if they meet the census.

Compulsory suffrage

Where Compulsory suffrage exists, those who are eligible to vote are required by law to do so. Thirty-two countries currently practice this form of suffrage.[8]

Forms of exclusion from suffrage

Religion

In the aftermath of the Reformation it was common in European countries for people of disfavored religious denominations to be denied civil and political rights, often including the right to vote, to stand for election or to sit in parliament. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Roman Catholics were denied the right to vote from 1728 to 1793, and the right to sit in parliament until 1829. The anti-Catholic policy was justified on the grounds that the loyalty of Catholics supposedly lay with the Pope rather than the national monarch.

In England and Ireland, several Acts practically disenfranchised non-Anglicans or non-Protestants by imposing an oath before admission to vote or to run for office. The 1672 and 1678 Test Acts forbade non-Anglicans to hold public offices, the 1727 Disenfranchising Act took away Catholics' (Papists') voting rights in Ireland, which were restored only in 1788. Jews could not even be naturalized. An attempt was made to change this situation, but the Jewish Naturalization Act 1753 provoked such reactions that it was repealed the next year. Nonconformists (Methodists and Presbyterians) were only allowed to run for elections to the British House of Commons in 1828, Catholics in 1829 (following the Catholic Relief Act 1829), and Jews in 1858 (with the Emancipation of the Jews in England). Benjamin Disraeli could only begin his political career in 1837 because he had been converted to Anglicanism at the age of 12.

In several states in the U.S. after the Declaration of Independence, Jews, Quakers or Catholics were denied voting rights and/or forbidden to run for office.[9] The Delaware Constitution of 1776 stated that "Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall (…) also make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.".[10] This was repealed by article I, section 2 of the 1792 Constitution: "No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, under this State.".[11] The 1778 Constitution of the State of South Carolina stated that "No person shall be eligible to sit in the house of representatives unless he be of the Protestant religion",[12] the 1777 Constitution of the State of Georgia (art. VI) that "The representatives shall be chosen out of the residents in each county (…) and they shall be of the Protestent (sic) religion".[13] In Maryland, voting rights and eligibility were extended to Jews in 1828.[14]

In Canada, several religious groups (Mennonites, Hutterites, Doukhobors) were disenfranchised by the wartime Elections Act of 1917, mainly because they opposed military service. This disenfranchisement ended with the end of the First World War, but was renewed for Doukhobors from 1934 (Dominion Elections Act) to 1955.[15]

The first Constitution of modern Romania in 1866 provided in article 7 that only Christians could become Romanian citizens. Jews native to Romania were declared stateless persons. In 1879, under pressure of the Berlin Peace Conference, this article was amended granting non-Christians the right to become Romanian citizens, but naturalization was granted on a case-by-case basis and was subject to Parliamentary approval. An application took over ten years to process. Only in 1923 was a new constitution adopted, whose article 133 extended Romanian citizenship to all Jewish residents and equality of rights to all Romanian citizens.[16]

In the Republic of Maldives, only Muslim citizens have voting rights and are eligible for parliamentary elections.[17] On 25 November 2011, the UN human rights chief called on Maldivian authorities to remove the discriminatory constitutional provision that requires every citizen to be a Muslim.[18]

Wealth, tax class, social class

Until the nineteenth century, many Western democracies had property qualifications in their electoral laws; e.g. only landowners could vote (because the only tax for such countries was the property tax), or the voting rights were weighed according to the amount of taxes paid (as in the Prussian three-class franchise). Most countries abolished the property qualification for national elections in the late nineteenth century, but retained it for local government elections for several decades. Today these laws have largely been abolished, although the homeless may not be able to register because they lack regular addresses.

In the United Kingdom, until the House of Lords Act 1999, peers who were members of the House of Lords were excluded from voting for the House of Commons because they were not commoners. In Britain and some other monarchies, the sovereign is ineligible to vote in parliamentary elections.

Knowledge

Sometimes the right to vote has been limited to people who had achieved a certain level of education or passed a certain test, e.g. "literacy tests" in some states of the US.[19]

Race

Various countries, usually with large populations of people of color (POC), have historically denied the vote to people of particular races or to POC in general. This has been achieved in a number of ways:

Age

All modern democracies require voters to meet age qualifications to vote. Worldwide voting ages are not consistent, differing between countries and even within counties, usually between 16 and 21 years. Demeny voting would extend voting rights to everyone including children regardless of age.

Criminality

Many countries restrict the voting rights of convicted criminals. Some countries, and some U.S. states, also deny the right to vote to those convicted of serious crimes after they are released from prison. In some cases (e.g. the felony disenfranchisement laws found in many U.S. states) the denial of the right to vote is automatic on a felony conviction; in other cases (e.g. France and Germany) deprivation of the vote is meted out separately, often limited to certain crimes such as those against the electoral system. In the Republic of Ireland, prisoners are allowed the right to vote, following the Hirst v UK (No2) ruling, and this was granted in 2006. Canada allowed only prisoners serving a term of less than 2 years the right to vote, but this was found unconstitutional in 2002 by the Supreme Court of Canada in Sauvé v. Canada (Chief Electoral Officer), and all prisoners were allowed to vote as of the 2004 Canadian federal election.

Residency

Under certain electoral systems elections are held within subnational jurisdictions, preventing persons who would otherwise be eligible from voting because they do not reside within such a jurisdiction, or because they live in an area which cannot participate. In the United States, residents of Washington, DC receive no voting representation in Congress, although they have (de facto) full representation in presidential elections. Residents of Puerto Rico have neither.

Sometimes citizens become ineligible to vote because they are no longer resident in their country of citizenship. For example, Australian citizens who have been outside Australia more than one and less than six years may excuse themselves from the requirement to vote in Australian elections while they remain outside Australia (voting in Australia is compulsory for resident citizens).[21]

In some cases, a certain period of residence in a locality may required for the right to vote in that location. For example, in the United Kingdom up to 2001, each 15 February a new electoral register came into effect, based on registration as of the previous 10 October, with the effect of limiting voting to those resident five to seventeen months earlier depending on the timing of the election.

Nationality

In most countries, suffrage is limited to citizens and, in many cases, permanent residents of that country. However, some members of supra-national organisations such as the Commonwealth of Nations and the European Union have given voting rights to citizens of all countries within that organisation. Until the mid-twentieth century, many Commonwealth countries gave the vote to all British citizens in the country, regardless of whether they were normally resident there. In most cases this was because there was no distinction between British and local citizenship. Several countries qualified this with restrictions preventing non-white British citizens such as Indians and British Africans from voting. Under European Union law, citizens of European Union countries can vote in each other's local and European Parliament elections on the same basis as citizens of the country in question.

Naturalization

In some countries, naturalized citizens do not enjoy the right of vote and/or to be candidate, either permanently or for a determined period.

Article 5 of the 1831 Belgian Constitution made a difference between ordinary naturalization, and grande naturalisation. Only (former) foreigners who had been granted grande naturalisation were entitled to vote or be candidate for parliamentary elections or to be appointed as minister. However, ordinary naturalized citizens could vote for municipal elections.[22] Ordinary naturalized citizens and citizens who had acquired Belgian nationality through marriage were only admitted to vote, but not to be candidate, for parliamentary elections in 1976. The concepts of ordinary and grande naturalization were suppressed from the Constitution in 1991.[23]

In France, the 1889 Nationality Law barred those who had acquired the French nationality by naturalization or marriage from voting, eligibility and access to several public jobs. In 1938 the delay was reduced to 5 years.[24] These discriminations, as well as others against naturalized citizens, were gradually abolished in 1973 (9 January 1973 law) and 1983.

In Morocco, a former French protectorate, and in Guinea, a former French colony, naturalized citizens are prohibited from voting for 5 years after their naturalization.[25][26]

In the Federated States of Micronesia, Micronesian citizenship for a minimum of 15 years is an eligibility condition to be elected to the parliament.[27]

In Nicaragua, Peru and the Philippines, only citizens by birth are eligible for being elected to the national legislature; naturalized citizens enjoy only voting rights.[28][29][30]

In Uruguay, naturalized citizens have the right of eligibility to the parliament after 5 years.[31]

In the United States, the President and Vice President must be natural-born citizens. All other governmental offices may be held by any citizen, although citizens may only run for Congress after an extended period of citizenship (seven years for the House of Representatives and nine for the Senate).

Function

In France, an 1872 law, rescinded only by a 1945 decree, prohibited all army personnel from voting.[32]

In the United Kingdom, public servants have to resign before running for an election.[33]

The 1876 Constitution of Texas (article VI, section 1) stated that "The following classes of persons shall not be allowed to vote in this State, to wit: (…) Fifth--All soldiers, marines and seamen, employed in the service of the army or navy of the United States.".[34]

Most countries that exercise separation of powers forbid a person to be a legislator and government official at the same time. Such provisions are found, for example, in Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

History of suffrage around the world

Finland was the first nation in the world to give all adult citizens full suffrage, in other words the right to vote and to run for office (in 1906). New Zealand was the first country in the world to grant all adult citizens the right to vote (in 1893), but women did not get the right to run for the New Zealand legislature until 1919.

Australia

Canada

Finland

Hong Kong

Minimum age to vote was reduced from 21 to 18 years in 1995. According to the Basic Law, the constitution of the territory since 1997, stipulates that all permanent residents (a status conferred by birth or by seven years of residence) have the right to vote. The right of permanent residents who have right of abode in other countries to stand in election is, however, restricted to 12 functional constituencies by the Legislative Council Ordinance of 1997.

The right to vote and the right to stand in elections are not equal. Less than 250,000 of the electorate are eligible to run in the 30 functional constituencies, of which 23 are elected by less than 80,000 of the electorate, and in the 2008 Legislative Council election 14 members were elected unopposed from these functional constituencies. The size of the electorates of some constituencies are less than 200. Only people who can demonstrate a connection to the sector are eligible to run in a functional constituency.

The Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2012, if passed, will amend the Legislative Council Ordinance to restrict the right to stand in Legislative Council by-elections in geographical constituencies and the District Council (Second) functional constituency. In addition to people who are mentally disabled, bankrupted or imprisoned, members who resigned from their seats will not have the right to stand within six months' time from their resignation. The bill is currently passing through the committee stage.

India

Japan

New Zealand

South Africa

United Kingdom

King Henry VI of England established in 1432 that only male owners of property worth at least forty shillings, a significant sum, were entitled to vote in a county. The rules for boroughs were complex, but also restrictive. Changes were made to the details of the system, but there was no major reform until the Reform Act 1832. Suffrage in Scotland, an independent state until 1707, was also restricted. Suffrage in the United Kingdom was slowly changed over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries through the use of the Reform Acts and the Representation of the People Acts, culminating in universal suffrage, excluding children and convicted prisoners.

United States

In the United States, suffrage is determined by the separate states, not federally (Wyoming being the first state to instill suffrage). However, the "right to vote" is expressly mentioned in five Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These five Amendments limit the basis upon which the right to vote may be abridged or denied:

Muslim world

Etymology

The word suffrage comes from Latin suffragium, meaning "vote", "political support", and the right to vote.[44][45][46] The etymology of the Latin word is uncertain, with some sources citing Latin suffragari "lend support, vote for someone", from sub "under" + fragor "crash, din, shouts (as of approval)", related to frangere "to break" (related to fraction). Other sources say that attempts to connect suffragium with fragor cannot be taken seriously.[47] Some etymologists think that it may be related to suffrago and may have originally meant an ankle bone or knuckle bone.[47]

See also

References

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  2. ^ http://aceproject.org/main/english/lf/lfd02.htm?toc
  3. ^ Nohlen, Dieter (2001). "Elections in Asia and the Pacific: South East Asia, East Asia, and the South Pacific". p.14. Oxford University Press, 2001
  4. ^ A. Kulinski, K. Pawlowski. "The Atlantic Community - The Titanic of the XXI Century". p.96. WSB-NLU. 2010
  5. ^ "Official Report of Debates". p.113. Council of Europe, 1991
  6. ^ Votes for Women - Elections New Zealand Elections.org.
  7. ^ "Definition: suffrage". Websters Dictionary. http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/suffrage?cx=partner-pub-0939450753529744%3Av0qd01-tdlq&cof=FORID%3A9&ie=UTF-8&q=suffrage&sa=Search#906. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  8. ^ "CIA:The World Factbook". https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2123.html. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  9. ^ Williamson, Chilton (1960), American Suffrage. From property to democracy, Princeton University Press
  10. ^ Constitution of Delaware, 1776, The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/de02.htm, retrieved 2007-12-07
  11. ^ State Constitution (Religious Sections) - Delaware, The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State], http://members.tripod.com/candst/cnst_de.htm, retrieved 2007-12-07
  12. ^ An Act for establishing the constitution of the State of South Carolina, March 19, 1778, The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/sc02.htm, retrieved 2007-12-05
  13. ^ Constitution of Georgia, 5 February 1777, The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/ga02.htm, retrieved 2007-12-07
  14. ^ An Act for the relief of Jews in Maryland, passed February 26, 1825, Archives of Maryland, Volume 3183, Page 1670, February 26, 1825, http://www.msa.md.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc4800/sc4872/003183/html/m3183-1670.html, retrieved 2007-12-05
  15. ^ A History of the Vote in Canada, Chapter 3 Modernization, 1920–1981, Elections Canada, Last Modified: 2007–7–9, http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=gen&document=chap3&dir=his&lang=e&textonly=false, retrieved 2007-12-06
  16. ^ Chronology - From the History Museum of the Romanian Jews; Hasefer Publishing House, The Romanian Jewish Community, http://www.romanianjewish.org/en/mosteniri_ale_culturii_iudaice_03_13.html, retrieved 2007-12-06
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  18. ^ Ali Nafiz, UN rights chief calls on Maldives to remove Muslim-only citizenship provision, Haveeru Online, November 25, 2011
  19. ^ a b Transcript of Voting Rights Act (1965) U.S. National Archives.
  20. ^ The Constitution: The 24th Amendment Time Magazine. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  21. ^ Australian Electoral Commission, "Voting Overseas - Frequently Asked Questions", 20 November 2007
  22. ^ Delcour, M.C., Traité théorique et pratique du droit électoral appliqué aux élections communales, Louvain, Ickx & Geets, 1842, p.16
  23. ^ Lambert, Pierre-Yves (1999), La participation politique des allochtones en Belgique - Historique et situation bruxelloise, Academia-Bruylant (coll. Sybidi Papers), Louvain-la-Neuve, http://suffrage-universel.be/be/00.htm, retrieved 2007-12-06
  24. ^ Patrick Weil, Nationalité française (débat sur la)", dans Jean-François Sirinelli (dir.), Dictionnaire historique de la vie politique française au XXe siècle, Paris, PUF, 1995, p. 719-721
  25. ^ Nadia Bernoussi, L’évolution du processus électoral au Maroc, 22 December 2005
  26. ^ art. 3, al. 3, Loi Organique portant code électoral guinéen
  27. ^ "Federated States of Micronesia". Inter-Parliamentary Union. http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2213_B.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  28. ^ "Nicaragua". Inter-Parliamentary Union. http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2235_B.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  29. ^ "Peru". Inter-Parliamentary Union. http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2251_B.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  30. ^ "Philippines". Inter-Parliamentary Union. http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2253_B.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  31. ^ "Uruguay". Inter-Parliamentary Union. http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2341_B.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  32. ^ (in French) (– Scholar search) Plénitude de la République et extension du suffrage universel, Assemblée nationale (National Assembly of France), http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/histoire/suffrage_universel/suffrage-extension.asp#militaires, retrieved 2007-12-05[dead link]
  33. ^ (in French) Fonction publique et mandats électifs dans l'Union européenne, Études de législation comparée, Assemblée nationale (National Assembly of France), May 2006, http://www.assemblee-nationale.tv/europe/comparaisons/2005-030_incompatiblite_mandats_fonctionnaires_ue.asp, retrieved 2007-12-05[dead link]
  34. ^ Constitution of the State of Texas (1876), Tarlton Law Library, The University of Texas School of Law, http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/constitutions/text/IART06.html, retrieved 2007-12-08
  35. ^ a b http://www.aec.gov.au/Elections/Australian_Electoral_History/wright.htm
  36. ^ http://www.aec.gov.au/elections/australian_electoral_history/milestone.htm
  37. ^ http://www.abheritage.ca/famous5/timeline_text.html
  38. ^ a b http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/QuebecHistory/encyclopedia/Canada-WomensVote-WomenSuffrage.htm
  39. ^ CBC News. http://archives.cbc.ca/politics/elections/topics/1450/.
  40. ^ a b c Aboriginal People, Political Organization and Activism, The Canadian Encyclopedia
  41. ^ CBC News. http://archives.cbc.ca/politics/rights_freedoms/topics/1450-9559/.
  42. ^ Sauvé v. Canada (Chief Electoral Officer)
  43. ^ "The Constitution of Finland" (PDF). June 11, 1999. http://www.finlex.fi/pdf/saadkaan/E9990731.PDF. Retrieved 2007-12-10
  44. ^ http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/suffrage
  45. ^ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suffrage
  46. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=suffrage
  47. ^ a b http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Suffragium.html

Bibliography

External links