DISC Lecture Series

April 6, 2011 - 11:00 - 12:40
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Event type: 
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Luicy Pedroza

But do not mention migration!

Comparative politics of denizen enfranchisement reforms

in democracies with large migrant populations.

Luicy Pedroza* 

For roughly a century voting rights were generally understood as the quintessential right of citizenship. However, the recent enfranchisement of denizens (i.e. long-term resident migrants) in tens of democratic polities at various levels reveals serious reassessments of practices and understandings of citizenship, especially in the exclusiveness and necessity previously attributed to naturalization as precedent to acquire citizenship-as-nationality. Involving constitutional reforms most of the time, denizen enfranchisement is predominantly justified as a solution to the representation deficit in democracies with large proportions of long-term resident migrants. But just what kind of political incorporation of migrants is that? Is it to be understood as an alternative or as a pathway to citizenship (Hammar)? The goal of my doctoral research is to find out an answer to these questions by looking at enfranchisement debates across different polities and over time. In the relevant literature denizen enfranchisement reforms have been mostly approached with macro-explanations that propose national traditions of access to nationality or transnational influences as remote causes, bracketing out the actual enfranchisement processes. My research joins the more recent literature focusing on the meso-level, particularly on the dynamics of political discourse and party politics. After comparing debates in Portugal and the “failed” case(s) of Germany my work suggests that the framing of enfranchising reforms is fundamental to their outcome, even taking into account parliamentary majorities. In particular, it suggests that the more enfranchisement proposals are framed as a migration issue and exploited by political parties from the extremes of the political spectrum, the less their chances of passing.  

*Luicy Pedroza is a Ph.D. candidate at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Bremen. She has studied at El Colegio de México, Yale and the International University Bremen (now Jacobs University). She has worked as a researcher for the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE- México, D.F.), and the Open Society Institute (Budapest) on issues of civic education and the promotion of democratic governance for multiethnic settings. Her academic research and interests are situated at the crossroads of political theory, comparative politics, and democratization studies.

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