Nationalists want to set language requirement for foreigners

Like EU citizens citizens from outside the European Union can take part in the local elections in October if they register in time. People from outside the European Union can only register if they have been staying in the country legally for at least five years, but further conditions may now also be set.

Belgium's largest party, the opposition Flemish nationalist N-VA, wants to ensure that only non-EU foreigners who speak the local language can exercise their vote.

Lawmaker Ben Weyts: "There should be conditions linked to integration, e.g. knowledge of the language of the local area where you are living. In Flanders this means knowledge of Dutch. If you want to have a say in the administration of your municipality, you should also have the politeness to become familiar with the language of the municipality. If it's up to us, then we favour linking language conditions, integration conditions, to acquiring Belgian nationality and casting your vote."

Six years ago at the last local elections only a small number of foreigners bothered to vote in the municipal elections that elect local councils.