Matthews v United Kingdom [1999]

Matthews v United Kingdom [1999] 28 EHRR 361 is a significant human rights case decided by the European Court of Human Rights, concerning the right to vote under the European Convention on Human Rights. The case involved Gibraltarians, who, despite being EU citizens under the British Treaty of Accession, were initially denied the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament.

Denise Matthews, a British citizen and resident of Gibraltar, applied to be registered as a voter in the European Parliament elections in April 1994. However, she was informed that, under the terms of the EC Act on Direct Elections of 1976, Gibraltar was not included in the franchise for those elections. The denial of the right to vote in European Parliament elections was challenged on the grounds that it violated the right to participate in elections to choose the legislature (Article 3 of Protocol No. 1) and constituted discrimination (Article 14) since she was entitled to vote anywhere in the European Union except in Gibraltar.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of the applicant, Denise Matthews, stating that the absence of elections in Gibraltar to the European Parliament was a violation of her right to participate in elections. The decision had significant consequences, leading to Gibraltar's inclusion in the South West England constituency for the European Parliament election in 2004.

Following this decision, Spain raised a complaint about Gibraltar participating in EU elections to the European Court of Justice, the European Union's high court, but the complaint was unsuccessful.

This case is noteworthy for establishing the right of Gibraltarians to vote in European Parliament elections and addressing the importance of equal voting rights for EU citizens residing in different regions, even when specific legal arrangements were lacking.
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