Voting Rights for Non-citizens: Treasure or Fool’s Gold?

  • Avigail Eisenberg


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.


Voting rights Non-citizens Franchise Multinational states Democratic inclusion 



My thanks to Rainer Bauböck, Michael Blake, Colin Macleod, Sue Donaldson, Alex Gunn, Patti Lenard, David Owen, Lorenzo Piccoli, Ilenia Ruggiu and Christine Straehle for comments on this paper. My thanks also to the participants at the 2012 American Philosophical Association Meetings in Seattle and at the 2013 Canadian Political Science Association Meetings, especially Amy Reed-Sandoval and Shelley Wilcox, for their questions and comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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