Evaluating special representation of non-resident citizens: eligibility, constituency, and proportionality


So far, twenty-one countries have introduced—and some thereafter withdrawn—reserved legislative seats for their citizens living abroad. Existing literature on this form of special representation has studied this topic either empirically or normatively. We bring these two approaches together based on the main dimensions of institutional variation of special representation: (1) eligibility, (2) constituency structure, and (3) electoral proportionality. We first discuss each dimension from a normative perspective. In a second step, we map the range of empirical variation and highlight the most common arrangements. We conclude that the normative justification for special representation is generally weak, but some institutional configurations pose fewer problems. Specifically, we see fewer issues with special representation when electoral inclusion is limited to the first generation of emigrants and when it is used to limit the electoral influence of non-resident populations that make up a large share of the overall electorate. By grounding our normative discussion on an empirical mapping, we bridge two disconnected literatures on emigrants’ special representation.

International Migration
Klaudia Wegschaider
Klaudia Wegschaider
Postdoctoral Researcher

Democracy | Electoral Rights | Voting | Migration