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Germany: Unconstitutional to exclude disabled from voting

February 21, 2019

Germany's top court has found that the country's electoral law discriminates against the disabled. More than 80,000 people requiring full-time care are currently excluded from European and federal elections.

A German casts a postal vote
Image: Reuters/F. Bensch

Germany's top court ruled on Thursday that it was unconstitutional to exclude disabled individuals under court-ordered care from voting in federal elections. The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that the country's electoral law was discriminatory and violated the right to democratic choice.

Several disabled individuals brought the suit after being barred from voting in the 2013 federal election. Court data showed this affected some 82,220 people who live with full-time assistance.

The assistance organization "Lebenshilfe" welcomed the ruling. Chairperson and Social Democratic (SPD) lawmaker Ulla Schmidt said that "finally, all adult German citizens are allowed to vote."

"This is a great achievement for people with disabilities and for our democracy."

Many disabled Germans barred from voting

SPD accuses CDU of blocking compromise

Both Lebenshilfe and the Caritas charity's Disabled Aid and Psychiatry (CBP) program had supported the plaintiffs in the case, but they cautioned that Thursday's ruling was just one step and that the ruling coalition must make broader inclusion a priority.

"Now the coalition must act to ensure that the people concerned can vote in European elections in May," said CBP chair Johannes Magin.

In their coalition agreement, the SPD and Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) had promised to enshrine the inclusion of people with disabilities in the electoral process. Since then, however, the SPD has accused the CDU leadership of blocking compromises agreed upon by both sides.

es/rt (AFP, KNA)

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