The other day I came across this article by Anna Leszkiewicz called “Can wizards vote in Muggle elections?“. For some reason, I thought the article would be about the referendum on the UK membership in the European Union. I thought it will address the question of who should be allowed to vote in the referendum. It soon became obvious to me that the article is just a (rather interesting) review of the political sphere in Harry Potter and it has no hidden meaning – the author was simply wondering whether in J K Rowling’s books wizards get to vote in the Muggle elections. Nevertheless, the title gave me the idea of writing about the EU referendum and contemplating on whether citizens of EU countries residing in the UK should be allowed to cast a ballot.
Before I start, I want to be upfront with everybody: I am not in the position to judge what the best thing to do is. I am simply trying to present, in an impartial manner, the pros and cons of allowing other EU citizens to vote (especially the Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian Muggles that many wizards are so scared of). If you want a clear answer to the question, just ask Nigel Farage. I’m sure he will have a lot to say about this (considering his half-blood origins).
While citizens of EU countries residing in the UK are allowed to vote in elections for local government and the European parliament, they lose this privilege in the general elections. In the UK parliamentary general elections (same as in the 2011 Alternative Vote referendum) only British citizens, qualifying Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the Republic of Ireland were eligible to cast a ballot. In the Scottish independence referendum, EU nationals were able to cast a ballot if they were residing in Scotland. In other words, every wizard and European Muggle living in Scotland was allowed to vote.
You might wonder how will Britain’s in/out referendum on EU membership differ from the Scottish in/out referendum. Surely if EU citizens were allowed to vote in Scotland, they should be allowed to vote in the upcoming referendum as well. Weeeeell… think again! Here is a list of pros and cons:
Yes, let muggles vote! They are wizards in heart after all.
Since UK nationals living abroad will most likely be allowed to vote, then equally important would be to allow the non-British nationals living in UK to vote. For the sake of equality and fairness, all parties directly affected by this referendum should have a vote. Imagine Hogwarts holds a referendum on whether or not Hogwarts stays in the Triwizard Tournament. If Hogwarts alumni are given the right to vote, so should the ghosts who live in the school (albeit not being wizards).
However, it is not just equality and fairness that should be taken into consideration. One should also look at the financial aspects. There are EU nationals who live, work, pay their taxes and have thriving businesses in the UK. Denying them to have a voice in this debate could have an impact on their lives and their attitudes towards the host country. Worst case scenario (or best case scenario – depending on your perspective), some of them could abandon their tax-paying jobs and settle somewhere they feel at ease of doing business.
No, muggles are not wizards! Keep it pure-blood!
In 1975, UK had the first nationwide referendum where they voted on (surprise, surprise…) staying in the European Union ( known at the time as the Common Market). Back then, only those who had a vote in the Parliamentary election were entitled to vote in the referendum. This method was already tested, why change it?
If decided to stick to wizards only, there will be 46 million eligible voters. However, if European muggles living in the magical Britain are given the right to vote, the number will increase considerably to 48.7 million. What does this mean? For starters, increased costs. A referendum is expensive enough as it is, but educating an extra 2.7 million people who let’s be honest are just crowding the wizarding community and not giving much in return (right, Nigel? right?) is just ridiculous.
The extra voters could prove to be powerful voting blocs since most of them are expected to want Britain to stay in the EU. As a consequence, the decision to allow them to have a say will invalidate the vote in the eyes of many British people. The British euroscepticism was signaled by voters both at the European Parliament elections in 2014 and at the General Elections in 2015 when David Cameron promised this referendum to the people and won the race. If the Torries start changing the rules of the game now, they could be punished in the next elections. If you don’t trust me, ask the Lib Dems.
No matter where you stand on the issue, you probably don’t want to be David Cameron right now. Caught between the interests of big companies, the public opinion and the external influences, that’s what I call ‘euro-pressure’.