The right to vote and restrictions on eligibility

Date & time

1–2pm Thursday 19 November 2015


Fellows Road Theatre 2, ANU College of Law, Building 6A, Fellows Road, The Australian National University


Dr Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler, University of Reading


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A critical assessment of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights

The talk argues that Strasbourg's voting eligibility jurisprudence concerning the interpretation of Article 3 of the Protocol I of the ECHR (A3P1) has not clearly distinguished between the desirable level of scrutiny for questions relating to the choice of electoral systems and the desirable level of scrutiny for questions relating to voting eligibility.

Drawing on Strasbourg's jurisprudence regarding the disenfranchisement of convicts and non-resident citizens, 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, Strasbourg has been timid rather than interventionist. Further, 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, where he is 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; and the Society of Legal Scholars Civil Liberties & Human Rights Section Convenor. 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.

Previously, Ruvi was a visiting researcher at Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic and with the Human Rights Program; a Tutor in Public International Law at the University of Oxford; and a legal advising officer at the Israel Defence Forces' Legal Counsellor's Office (mandatory military service). Ruvi holds DPhil, MPhil, and BCL degrees from the University of Oxford; an LLM (with specialisation in public law) from Hebrew University; and an LLB, BA (Economics) from the University of Haifa. He was called to the Israeli bar in 2003.

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