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Electoral (non)alignment between resident and non-resident voters: evidence from Spain

A Correction to this article was published on 13 April 2023

This article has been updated


Over the past decades, diasporas’ engagement in homeland elections has become a highly salient issue, especially given the widespread implementation of enfranchisement policies for citizens living abroad. Spain stands out in the European context with its long emigration history, its sizeable population abroad, and the enactment of the so-called ‛voto rogado’ (‛begged vote’) system that hindered external voting by requiring non-resident citizens to submit a separate voter registration application to become eligible for casting the ballot in Spanish elections. Yet, little is known so far about the voting patterns of Spaniards abroad. This article aims to fill this gap by examining the electoral (non)alignment between resident and non-resident voters in the Spanish general elections held over the past three decades. We argue that a comprehensive assessment of electoral (non)alignment must consider two different analytical layers of turnout and party choice. The article shows that changing electoral rules on extraterritorial voting, the increasingly diverse profile of Spaniards abroad, and Spanish parties’ strategies towards the diaspora interact to account for differences in overseas Spaniards’ turnout rates and party choices when compared to resident voters.

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Fig. 1

Source Own elaboration based on data from the Spanish National Institute for Statistics and the General Directorate of Spaniards Abroad and Consular Affairs of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. There is no data on external turnout prior to the 1986 elections. CERA = Electoral Census of Absent Residents (Spaniards abroad), CER = Electoral Census of Residents (Spaniards in Spain)

Fig. 2

Source Own elaboration based on data from the General Directorate of Spaniards Abroad and Consular Affairs of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and the Spanish National Institute for Statistics. CERA = Electoral Census of Absent Residents (all Spaniards abroad). CER = Electoral Census of Residents (Spaniards in Spain)

Fig. 3

Source Own elaboration based on data from the General Directorate of Spaniards Abroad and Consular Affairs of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. The data refers to parties that obtained at least one seat in any given election

Change history


  1. (last accessed 12/11/2022).

  2. It is also partly due to the enactment of Law 36/2002 and the 2007 Historical Memory Law facilitating citizenship acquisition for emigrants’ descendants and the descendants of Civil War exiles (Mateos Crespo 2019).

  3. Royal Decree 3341/1977, published in the Official Monitor on 3rd of January 1978, (last accessed 12/11/2022).

  4. (last accessed 12/11/2022).

  5. (last accessed 12/11/2022).

  6. Except for 2019, when two general elections were held and voters who requested to vote in April automatically received the ballot also in November. The ‛begged vote’ system was recently supressed by the Organic Law 12/2022 of 30th of September 2022- see (last accessed 12/11/2022).

  7. (last accessed 11/11/2022).

  8. The CERA census is the most reliable stock to measure extra-territorial turnout in the Spanish case as it includes all non-resident citizens who meet the requirements for being voters in Spanish elections.

  9. See the diaspora survey conducted by Marea Granate: (last accessed 12/11/2022).

  10. (last accessed 12/11/2022).

  11., (last accessed 12/11/2022).

  12. The distribution of the data on party choice by country of residence is not available.

  13. Pollsters were reporting a PP victory until the Madrid bombings.

  14. Vox does provide on its website a contact form for their branches abroad, referring to 46 locations, but without any further details available that could indicate that party branches exist in such locations.

  15. (last accessed 12/11/2022).


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We would like to thank the Spanish National Institute for Statistics and the General Directorate of Spaniards Abroad and Consular Affairs of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for the clarifications provided during the process of data collection. We are also indebted to Sebastián Umpierrez de Reguero, Johanna Peltoniemi, Sorina Soare, and Djordje Sredanovic for their insightful comments on previous versions of this article.

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Correspondence to Daniela Vintila.

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The original online version of this article was revised: The author Marta Paradés Martín is affiliated erroneously. This has been corrected.

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Vintila, D., Pamies, C. & Paradés, M. Electoral (non)alignment between resident and non-resident voters: evidence from Spain. Eur Polit Sci 22, 63–82 (2023).

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