22 December 2023

Guidelines on the Right to Vote for Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities in the European Union

The right to vote is essential for the exercise of democracy. It enables adult individuals to express their political will in elections choosing their representation at all levels of governance (local, regional, national and European) and in referendums on a proposal, law, or political issue. Exercising the right to vote has direct political and social consequences both for the individual and for society as a whole. The right to vote is also essential for the personhood of every voter; it reflects their belonging to an electorate and a community. Persons who can vote matter in political terms; politicians must consider them and create policies and programmes that reflect the will of the persons expressed through elections.


The existing data shows that on the basis of deprivation of legal capacity, in the 2019 elections for the European Parliament, 400.000 persons with disabilities were denied the right to vote often through automatic or quasi-automatic exclusion.


Ahead of the 2024 European Parliament elections, Mental Health Europe set out to do a study on the developments in the European Union (EU) Member States in regard to the right to vote for persons with mental health problems or psychosocial disabilities, with a particular focus on changes that may have occurred since the last European Parliament elections in 2019. As a result of that study, this document provides guidance through the analysis of the international law concerning the right to vote, a comparative analysis of national laws and practices and policy recommendations. The study also included a survey among Mental Health Europe’s members to determine changes in policies and practices at national level. These guidelines are meant to be an instrument to support advocacy and policymaking calling for changes in laws, their implementation and practices that enable full access to the right to vote and stand for elections for people with psychosocial disabilities.

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