Voting Rights for Non-citizens: Treasure or Fool’s Gold?
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- Eisenberg, A. Int. Migration & Integration (2015) 16: 133. doi:10.1007/s12134-014-0331-y
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Proposals to extend the franchise to non-citizens have recently been defended on the basis of principles of democratic inclusion that challenge the sovereign authority of states to decide who may participate as a member in the democratic constituency. Here the requirement of extending the franchise to non-citizens is considered in the context of municipalities dominated by national minorities and in light of the claims of national minorities to self-rule. In these contexts, the settlement and enfranchisement of migrants sometimes dilute the strength and increase the costs of minority nationalist policies. The political dynamics created by extending voting rights to non-citizens where national minorities struggle for self-rule illuminate that moral arguments for extending voting rights to non-citizens can confuse two issues, the first being who has the right to participate in shaping the common projects of a democratic community and the second being whose interests should be considered in the course of decision making by that community. In these contexts, non-citizens have the right to have their interests considered and to have their rights taken seriously, but they may not have a strong claim to participate as voters in community decision making.