Election 2021: Candidate uses language talent to urge international citizens to register to vote
Edinburgh Southern SNP candidate Catriona MacDonald has made use of her talent at languages to make videos in Chinese, French and Spanish encouraging international citizens who can take part in in May’s Holyrood elections for the first time ever to register to vote.
After her multilingual videos were watched over 25,000 times online, she hopes her initiative will also encourage other candidates who can speak foreign languages to do likewise.
She said many people born elsewhere may not realise they have the right to vote.
And members of her campaign team have also chalked messages on the pavement in different languages, including Italian and Slovak, to spread the word.
Legislation passed in 2019 extended voting rights to 55,000 international citizens living in Scotland and reaffirmed the voting rights of EU and Commonwealth citizens.
Tens of thousands of people in Edinburgh were born outwith the UK. According to the 2011 census, countries accounting for the largest number of Edinburgh citizens born overseas include: Poland (11,700), India (4,900), Republic of Ireland (4,700), China (5,700), USA (3,700), Germany (3,500), Pakistan (2,500), Australia (2,100), France (2,000) and Spain (2,000).
Ms MacDonald said: “We all want Scotland to be an open and welcoming country. Our MSPs should speak up for everyone. People from all over the world have made Scotland their home and we are lucky to live in a diverse, international city.
“I hope other candidates will join me in reaching out to speakers of all the different languages in our country. Everyone living in Scotland now has the right to vote, wherever they were born. This is a great moment for our democracy and how we campaign should reflect this change.”
She learned Chinese when she spent two years at primary school in China where her mother was working as an English teacher and went on to study Chinese with the Confucius Institute when she was back in Scotland. She learned French at school and is interested in French literature and picked up Spanish while working in hospitality from co-workers and customers.
“After running a business in Edinburgh and a decade working in hospitality and tourism, I know how important international connections and languages are to our economy. I want to see all young Scots enjoy the same opportunities to travel and learn that I have had."