Chapter 13: Immigrants, emigrants and the right to vote: a story of double standards
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International migration simultaneously creates populations of emigrants living outside their state of nationality, and of immigrants living in states the nationality of which they do not hold. The discrepancy between resident and national populations has produced protracted situations of mass disenfranchisement, but also triggered new forms of re-enfranchisement beyond nationality and/or residence. The chapter compares the double trend in contemporary democracies of extending the right to vote to non-resident citizens and to non-citizen residents. It shows that notwithstanding significant interstate variations, states have been far more prone to expand the franchise to their own nationals abroad, than to foreigners durably settled within their territorial jurisdiction. These uneven policy developments contradict two central assumptions in the field of citizenship studies, namely that citizenship in today’s democracies has become more liberal and less valuable than in the past. Instead, they reveal a growing inequality of treatment between immigrants and emigrants also visible in other migration policy areas. This trend is illustrative of the nation-state’s two-faced and inconsistent response to one and the same phenomenon of individuals crossing international borders.

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