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EMINCOR Report Summary

Project ID: 660571
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.2.


Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2017-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Internationally mobile citizens pose a challenge to policy-makers concerned with their political rights and participation. There has been a remarkable rise in countries extending voting rights to their non-resident citizens (emigrants) over the last two decades with 115 countries granting such rights by 2007. This raises important questions regarding the reasons for this increase in policies of enfranchisement of emigrants and their influence on processes of political incorporation of emigrants. This project examines these issues along two main research objectives: First, it investigates the policies of emigrant participation by questioning why parties support extending voting rights to emigrants. This is through a mixed methods approach including a large N study and contextualised analysis of the framing of support. Second, the research focuses on practices and processes of emigrant political incorporation. This will be analysed through a study of emigrant candidates, which are running for office in parliamentary elections in the Italian election in 2013. The project will compare the profile, motivation and strategies of the candidates in their negotiation with the political parties for whom they candidate. The research, carried out at Harvard University and the Autonomous University and Barcelona, will contribute to current European policy debates on the quality and effectiveness of transnational electoral participation of mobile citizens.

Among the main conclusions of the project related to policies of emigrant incorporation are that party support for emigrant voting rights aligns with left-right position of parties as well as their position on policies on immigration related issues. In terms of the research on practices of emigrant political incorporation the study of the legislative recruitment of emigrant candidates’ in the 2013 Italian election shows that the profile and motivation among candidates are related to the political distance to the homeland as well as the particular recruitment strategies of the political parties in the homeland.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the two years of this Fellowship I have undertaken the following work:

Objective 1/work-package 1A: ‘Why do parties support emigrant voting rights? In order to understand why states grant external citizenship we have first undertaken an extensive analysis of existing literature. We have set up a database with the position and framing of political parties in 22 debates across 13 western European countries and conducted a both qualitative and quantitative analysis of why parties support emigrant voting rights. This paper is co-authored with Dr. Irina Ciornei, Bern University and Dr. Jean-Michel Lafleur, Liege University and is currently under review with an international journal.

Objective 2/Work-package 2: Research, analysis and first draft paper on ‘Cross-border pathways to power: legislative recruitment of emigrant candidates’. I have conducted a review of the existing literature and developed a conceptual framework for the legislative recruitment of emigrant candidates. I have collected background information on the candidates in the Italian 2013 legislative election, conducted interviews and undertaken a qualitative contextualized analysis of the information. This paper, as well as the academic and policy relevant activities, is expected to be finalized by the end of 2017.

During both my stay at the WCFIA and the UAB I have regularly attended local, national and international seminars and conferences relevant to my research objectives. Moreover, I have undergone training in especially surveys methodology and how to deal with ethical challenges in social science research. During this Fellowship I have presented my research in a range of international conferences, workshops and seminars.

The academic findings of the EMINCOR project are being written up in a non-technical language for further dissemination and beyond an academic audience in order to contribute to social and political debates by the end of 2017 and will be posted the website of the project.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The paper titled ‘Why do parties support emigrant voting rights?’ shows how the support and framing of parties in relation to emigrant voting rights relate to a series of variables including party ideology, position on immigration issues, and the presence of far right parties. This paper goes beyond the state of the art because as it is the first quantitative and systematic analysis of party positions on emigrant voting rights and moreover. It is also a first cut into understanding the alignment or contrast between party position on emigration and immigration policies.
The findings include that the more to the right is a party the more likely it is to support extension of voting rights to emigrants. Also the results of the paper illustrate how parties frame their support in relation to their overall position on both issues of emigration and immigration. The less a party supports multicultural policies towards immigrants and the more it prioritizes ‘national way of life’, the more likely it is to support extension of policies of enfranchisement of emigrants. The exception to this pattern is far right parties which display an ambiguous pattern of support for emigrant voting rights. Overall, these findings opens up the ‘black box’ analysis of why states support emigrant voting rights and cast new light on how parties are positioned regarding the transnationalization of the electorate and the incorporation of emigrants. This way the paper contributes to broader socio-political concerns and debates on how democracies deal with the representation of mobile citizens.

The paper titled ‘Cross-border pathways to power: legislative recruitment of emigrant candidates’ goes beyond the state of the art by providing the first cut into both our theoretical and empirical understanding of how and why emigrant candidates are motivated to run for office in the homeland. The paper combines theories of political recruitment, political elite transformation and insights from migrant transnational politics to identify some of the main factors and dimensions at play. The empirical study shows that the field of emigrant candidates is not simply a matter of recently departed emigrants returning to Italian politics. Instead the field of candidates is characterized by a relatively long-standing emigration trajectory and a relatively large presence of second generation migrants. These characteristics as the primary political aims of the candidates vary across parties and districts. The paper argues that in particular the party recruitment strategies as well as political distance between districts and the homeland are relevant factors in understanding these dynamics. Overall, the analysis suggests that the focus on legislative recruitment is an important optic in the understanding of the power relations between homelands and emigrants and by extension for the understanding of processes of transnational emigrant political incorporation. These findings contribute to broader debates and concerns with political elites abroad and the extent to which emigrant candidate perceive the opportunity to run both as an opportunity to enhance patterns of transnational representation and political reform in the homeland.

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