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Ensuring the political participation of persons with disabilities

In adopting the report by Mechthild Rawert (Germany, SOC), the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination emphasised the need for persons with disabilities to participate in political life, and pointed out that political rights, such as the right to vote, stand for election and be elected, are fundamental human rights. “Persons with disabilities have little visibility on the political stage and are still too often considered and treated as second-class citizens,” said the parliamentarians. “Their participation in political life is essential and can contribute to breaking stereotypes, changing mindsets and combating discrimination,” the rapporteur stressed.

Firstly, the committee believes that delinking the right to vote from legal capacity and full guardianship is a key factor in the political participation of persons with disabilities. “We should no longer accept this deprivation of the right to vote in Europe today,” said the parliamentarians, who propose that assistance to voting be provided, on request, via supported decision-making that respects the voter’s free will. The political rights of persons living in long-term care institutions should also be protected, states the report.

The committee further advocates ensuring the physical accessibility of public buildings, including polling stations, national, regional and local parliaments and government buildings and ensuring the provision of information about electoral processes and political programmes in accessible formats.