THE Scottish Government is set to launch a consultation on extending candidacy rights in elections.
George Adam, Minister for Parliamentary Business, said in the chamber today the Government was considering further ideas on how to extend the electoral franchise to include more people living in Scotland.
He confirmed a consultation paper would be published by the end of the year and he had already been in talks with key stakeholders about topics to be included.
The issue was raised by Green MSP Mark Ruskell during portfolio questions on Wednesday, who is also looking for the Government to go further and extend voting rights to people seeking asylum.
The Greens argue anyone who is living in Scotland who is over 16 should be able to run as an MSP candidate, including those with limited leave to remain.
The cooperation agreement, negotiated between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government, commits to “promote legislation on electoral reform that enables more people to stand as candidates at Scottish Parliament and local government elections.”
Ruskell said: “The Scottish Parliament and local councils should be truly representative of all people they serve.
“I am glad the Scottish Government is looking to open the door to new electoral rights. Hopefully, the Government will move to fix some of the inequalities in our electoral franchise, at least in relation to candidacy rights.
“But I would like to see it going further and including an extension of voting rights to people seeking asylum.
“If we’re going to improve democratic rights for some people, why not take the opportunity to improve them for all? Now more than ever, we need to find a way to overcome barriers to voting and candidacy. We would be a better and more democratic nation as a result.”
In response to Ruskell’s initial question, Adam said: “Work has been underway over the summer to prepare a public consultation and my officials and I have had helpful initial discussions with several interested stakeholders.”
Pressed on how the consultation would seek to engage with disenfranchised communities, Adam added: “The consultation paper will be published by the end of this year.
“I’ve already met with a number of key stakeholders in relation to consultation topics and I plan to continue that approach. I would be happy to consider any suggestions from the member and discuss things further.”