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Extending Urban Democracy? The Immigrant Presence in European Electoral Politics


Many European cities have significant shares of immigrants among their inhabitants. Their unequal access to the political life of the cities, and the country overall, is a major democratic deficit. This introduction to the symposium emphasises the need to consider immigrants as actors in politics and explains the specific relevance of the local level. While the focus of the symposium is on European countries with a longer history of immigration, the introduction also outlines key features of immigrants’ political rights and participation in other parts of Europe.

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  1. This terminological distinction was introduced by Hammar (1985) in order to keep the regulation of immigration apart from policies directed at immigrants within a country.

  2. Spain, however, may have a sizeable group of naturalised Latin Americans (Méndez Lago and Pérez-Nievas, 2011: 53) since they can apply for naturalisation after only 2 years of legal residence. This, combined with Spanish fluency by many, might produce more rapid electoral engagement among this group. Morales (2011: 36–37) presents data on participation in national and local elections.

  3. In 2002, the latter applied to Brazil, Cape Verde, Peru and Uruguay (Fonseca et al, 2002: 141).

  4. There are some publications on this topic in Spanish but these are often little noticed by scholars in other countries (see, e.g., Méndez, 2010; Morales and San Martín, 2011).


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Correspondence to karen schönwälder.

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schönwälder, k., bloemraad, i. Extending Urban Democracy? The Immigrant Presence in European Electoral Politics. Eur Polit Sci 12, 448–454 (2013).

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  • immigration
  • political participation
  • urban democracy
  • representation
  • immigrant political incorporation