European Disability Forum (EDF) launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December 2008) its 2009 European Election Manifesto “Nothing about Disabled People, Without Disabled People”.

The manifesto, which contains the EDF’s TOP 10 demands to make disability discrimination history, calls on politicians to assure equal access for voting and participation in electoral campaigns and for a European Parliament for all.

More than 50 million disabled citizens of Europe, representing one family out of four and 15% of the electorate, could change the low turnout of the last years’ elections, if they are allowed to exert their right to vote.

“Today many obstacles still exist in front of disabled people to cast their vote independently due to inaccessibility of premises voting booths or ballots, not to mention those of us who cannot leave their homes or are imprisoned in institutions. The electoral debates are also inaccessible. The politicians need to realise that disability should be addressed in all the possible ways – from its visibility in their campaigns to ensuring the right to vote”, said EDF President Mr. Yannis Vardakastanis. “The most recent and prominent example of the significance of the presence of the disability issues in the electoral campaign are the US elections in which the commitments of the winning candidate to solving problems of disabled people also influenced the vote turnout and results”, he added.

The right to vote is addressed in Art. 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in 2008. It is the legal base of the Manifesto, in which disabled voters call for all their rights of citizens, including the rights to a decent income, access to services that allow participation in daily life, education and employment, to be taken into consideration by the future members of the European Parliament before and after the forthcoming elections.

EDF invites the political leaders to endorse the Manifesto and to integrate its principles in their parties’ campaigns.

More information can be found at the Manifesto website.