Political Rights and Multilevel Citizenship in Europe
ILLIBERAL LIBERAL STATES: IMMIGRATION, CITIZENSHIP AND INTEGRATION IN THE EU, S. Carrera and E. Guild, eds., Ashgate, 2009
40 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2008 Last revised: 8 Feb 2012
Date Written: October 29, 2008
The focus of this paper is on the rights of non-nationals to vote in local elections on the basis of residence, rather than nationality. This is already well established in the EU context, as a result of the introduction of local electoral rights as part of the citizenship package contained in the Treaty of Maastricht. A number of Member States go further and confer the right to vote in local elections on third country nationals as well, but this extension has by no means been universal. This paper explores some of the political and legal tensions which arise where there are debates and conflicts within states, across different territorial and political units, about whether or not to extend electoral rights to non-nationals. The paper seeks to explore the types of claims or arguments made for the exercise of regional or local autonomy, e.g. within federal states, in favour of extending electoral rights where the national policy is more restrictive. It emphasises in particular the significance of constitutional barriers in a number of states where experimentation at the subnational level has been attempted, notably Germany and Austria. It suggests also that the case for subnational experimentation can be linked, as it may be increasingly in Scotland as the UK's current devolution scheme continues to evolve, to broader political questions about a state's political and territorial settlement.
Keywords: Citizenship, immigration, federalism, devolution, voting rights, non-nationals, multi-level governance, European Union, Member States
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