15,000 Israelis eligible to vote in upcoming Portugal national elections

In 2015, Lisbon approved a law granting citizenship to the descendants of Jews who were expelled under the Inquisition.

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October 4, 2019 10:19
1 minute read.
15,000 Israelis eligible to vote in upcoming Portugal national elections

Overall view of the Tagus river bridge and the city of Lisbon, Portugal. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Four years after Portugal approved a law granting citizenship to the descendants of Jews who were expelled centuries before, about 15,000 Israelis will be eligible to vote in the country’s national elections on Sunday. The figure is according to data released by David Yadid Law Office & Notary, an Israeli firm focusing on helping clients in the process of obtaining foreign citizenship, as well as in assisting Holocaust survivors.

Lisbon allows voting from abroad; therefore, eligible voters can cast their ballots without leaving Israel.

In June, the local magazine Publico reported that the Portuguese authorities had approved approximately one-third of the 33,000 applications filed under the 2015 law. Requests primarily came from Israel, Turkey, Venezuela, and Brazil.

Lisbon passed the law granting citizenship shortly before Spain passed a similar bill, which is more restrictive and ends in October. Thousands of descendants of Sephardic Jews have already obtained Spanish citizenship. Portugal’s law currently has no time restrictions. Both countries said the law was to atone for the Church-led persecution of Jews in the 15th and 16th centuries, known as the Inquisition.

Portugal has a population of slightly over 10 million people and is a member of the European Union.

“In addition to those who have already received a Portuguese passport, there are now tens of thousands of other Israelis who are in the process of obtaining citizenship,” said lawyer David Yadid.

“According to estimations, there are another three million potential beneficiaries. Tens of thousands of Israelis are expected to participate in the next elections in Portugal,” he added.

In the past four years, Portugal has experienced rare economic and social stability under a government led by socialist leader António Costa and backed by far-left parties, according to the Guardian. On Sunday, Costa is hoping to win another term in office. The British newspaper reported that polls indicate that the Socialists are going to come out first but will not obtain an absolute majority.

JTA contributed to this report.


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