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Discrepant electorates: The inclusiveness of electorates and its impact on the representation of citizens

This article addresses the democratically fundamental question of the inclusiveness of electorates and of its impact on citizens' representation. While the literature has focussed on the congruence between voters and representatives, it has neglected congruence issues between citizens and representatives. The article investigates comparatively this source of newly disenfranchised citizens in a globalised society with increasing mobility. On the one hand, electoral laws vary in their inclusion or exclusion of emigrants and in the right to vote to non-national residents (immigrants). On the other hand, naturalisation laws vary in the maintenance of nationality for nationals abroad (emigrants) and in their inclusion of non-national residents. We illustrate levels of ‘discrepancy’ between electorate and citizenship in 22 OECD countries qualitatively, by presenting differences of electoral and nationality laws, and quantitatively, by comparing the size of citizenship with that of the electorate, and the national and resident populations. We show that shifts between political and national communities are primarily due to naturalisation laws and that electoral laws have so far been unable to correct for the discrepancy.

Project Number IP 20 (Phase I): From national to supra-national democracy in Europe
Author(s) Caramani, Daniele and Oliver Strijbis
Series/Publication Parliamentary Affairs
Year January 2012
Pages 1-21
URL http://pa.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/01/12/pa.gsr069.short?rss=1
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