Samuel D. Schmid

Political Scientist

Curriculum vitae

Beyond Inclusion: Rethinking the Transnational Expansion of Electorates

Book Project

Co-authored with Joachim Blatter, this book offers a completely new lens for understanding, explaining, and evaluating the expansion of the right to vote to immigrants, emigrants, and kin minorities.

Beyond Inclusion presents a fresh perspective on the enfranchisement of immigrants, emigrants, and kin minorities. We argue that the expansion of electorates beyond territory and nationality is best understood not as democracy-enhancing measures to include people beyond the resident citizenry but instead as an essential component of broader struggles to create and integrate particular kinds of polities. Expanding electorates constitute responses not to the movement of people across borders or the movement of borders across people, but to the transformations from pre-Westphalian to Westphalian and to post-Westphalian orders and the corresponding (multi)national polities as well as the patterns of political contestation and party systems embedded within them. 

Applying this long historical view to four countries (Ireland, Hungary, Portugal, and Romania) with diverse enfranchisement regimes, we first demonstrate that this polity-centered perspective offers a more powerful framework to explain the outcomes of attempts to expand the electorate than the dominant people-centered and inclusion-based perspective. We then show that this novel perspective redirects and improves our understanding of the major consequences of expanding electorates by taking into account not only the impact on democratic inclusion but also the consequences for the second key dimension of democracy: contestation. This comprehensive approach allows the book to systematically link empirical insights to normative debates as well as to contribute to both “sense making” (interpretivist understanding) and “truth finding” (positivist explanation). In doing so, we significantly advance and bring together the study of citizenship, migration, and diaspora politics with the study of world orders, democratization, and democratic contestation.

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