ARENA Working Papers
WP 02/16


Sovereignty at the Boundaries

of the Polity


Jo Shaw


�Theoretically, sovereignty is nowhere more absolute than in matters of emigration, naturalization, nationality and expulsion.� [1]

I            Introduction

In this paper I use the case of European Union electoral rights to examine points of contestation around concepts of sovereignty and power in the EU context. The wider context of the paper is the enquiry into the significance of sovereignty at the boundaries of the polity. Sovereignty is the subject of contestation in the EU context, not only amongst academics but also between politicians and opinion-formers in the Member States and those in the EU institutions. The key questions seem to be: �what is the European Union?�; �what might it become?�; and �how does it impact upon the Member States and national sovereignty?�. The paper identifies and elaborates three important sets of contestations over citizenship and electoral rights debates involving both EU migrants and third country nationals resident in the Member States which in turn illluminate the broader characters of sovereignty and indeed citizenship. [2] The presentation highlights the role of debates on sovereignty and related concepts of competence, powers and even subsidiarity in the construction of a vital element of the EU polity: the boundaries of its suffrage.


A paradox faces all polities: so long as the criterion for allocating political rights of participation has been overwhelmingly the formal one of nationality and so long as the gateways to nationality have been restricted by states exercising national sovereignty, many who live and perhaps indeed are born within the boundaries of any given polity have been unable to participate politically, fully or even partially. Many factors have given rise to this scenario, including the globalization and interpenetration of economies coupled with the uneven distribution of economic well-being, the existence repressive state regimes which deny political and personal freedoms and give rise to refugee populations, the fact that state boundaries sometimes change whether by consent or force, and the existence of entities such as the EU which positively encourage migration. All of these factors generate mobility. The proportion of non-national residents in the Member States of the European Union continues to rise, [3] even when official governmental discourse has been set against immigration. [4] In 1994, the average of non-EEA nationals (i.e. third country nationals) [5] as a proportion of the population for the fifteen Member States was 2.7%, with Germany riding high at 6.3%, no doubt in part because of its restrictive naturalization policies. Since then, net immigration into the EU has continued steadily, but with little overall population growth because of declining birth rates. Yet in Germany by 2000 the proportion was 8.9% of residents, or 7.3 million foreigners. [6] Furthermore, migration has changed in recent years � or at least scholars of migration have now constructed a more complete picture of the nature of migration. As Allan Williams comments, [7] it is wrong to assume that all migration is temporary, legal and for work purposes. In fact, more diffuse patterns are evolving, a point reinforced by the fact that, as he notes, �across Europe, the pattern of national provision has produced a bricolage of territories with differentiated rights for different migrant groups�, the EU remains �a highly fragmented migration space�, borders have �varying degrees of permeability and closure�, and overall the EU can be described as a �mosaic of migration spaces�. Similarly, the legal circumstances of different groups of migrants will vary dramatically.


This state of affairs raises normative as well as policy challenges for any host polity. Citizenship theories often present two competing claims: citizenship as a universal status and good, and citizenship as marking out the boundaries of each polity from all other polities. Any normative claim to moral purchase made on behalf of a particular version of citizenship as the membership badge for a bounded community needs to be evaluated by reference to the standards according to which the boundaries have themselves have been set. Justice is not, contra the common interpretation given to Michael Walzer�s approach, either solely an internal matter or even one which necessarily involving applying principles distinguishing sharply between the internal and external spheres. [8] On the contrary, a polity�s claim to be �a liberal constitutionalist democracy� (a claim made on behalf of all of the existing EU Member States and indeed any future Member States by a combination of Articles 6 and 49 TEU), and to offer �universal citizenship�, must be tested not only by reference to what happens within the polity (majoritarian practices, rule of law, protection of minorities, fundamental rights, etc.), but also by reference to the boundaries that it sets with the rest of the world, the extent to which those boundaries are treated as permeable, fuzzy or negotiable, and the manner in which �strangers� are treated at the boundary as well as internally.


Along with justice, of course, the concept of sovereignty is profoundly implicated by the task of determining the boundaries of the suffrage. Most migration scholars agree that sovereignty continues to play a role in relation to the evolution of immigration politics and the legal regulation of migration, but deep fault lines appear in migration scholarship regarding the extent and impact of factors such as globalisation and regional integration projects including the EU upon migration regimes and politics. There is controversy over the putative emergence of a form of �postnational membership�, supplanting or at least complementing national citizenships. [9] The two points about justice and sovereignty can be linked by examining the contestations which take place over issues such as electoral rights for non-nationals. Rather than focusing directly on sovereignty itself, the paper looks instead to the sites of contestation around issues of sovereignty in relation to the electoral rights questions, and to the analysis of the outcomes of those contestations in terms of arguments about the nature of the EU-polity and about appropriate policy responses to societal challenges of immigration and non-national residents for the EU and its current and future Member States. The analysis attempts to highlight links, wherever possible, between what is decided, how it is decided, and where it is decided.


Beginning with a rehearsal working through some of the diverse relationships between sovereignty and the determination of the boundaries of the suffrage, the paper examines the difficulties attaching to the definition of the polity � and hence its boundaries � where there are the forces of Europeanisation, globalisation and regionalisation in play. While the argument and the picture presented coincidentally cohere neatly with more general claims about the transformation of sovereignty as an organisational focus for political and legal power, [10] this transformation is not directly examined. The sites of contestation selected for closer examination concern case studies in EU policy-making (the debate over the electoral rights directives and the debate over electoral rights for third country nationals) and the national politics of immigration and  electoral rights in Austria, Belgium, Germany, UK and � as an example of an accession state � Estonia.


The examination of sites of contestation will show how increasingly complex constellations of power, authority and institutions encompassing both the EU and its Member States, as well as other international organisations and the regional and local levels of government within the Member States, pose considerable challenges in terms of the pursuit of the goal of promoting �good� governance which is appropriate to a liberal polity. Each of the Member States under consideration can safely be classed as a liberal state, even though they each have very different nationhood traditions as well as contrasting immigration histories and practices. Estonia, likewise, aspires to liberal nation-statehood, as a litmus test of its political suitability for accession to the EU. The presentation of differing national political positions on immigration and electoral rights will illustrate how common remain invocations of nation, citizenship and territorial sovereignty, as well as how strong remain some of the conventions of political expediency such as the preservation of governing coalitions within the politics of electoral rights. Appeals to cosmopolitan values of justice and fair treatment, in contrast, carry less resonance. So far as this paper examines law and policy-making in relation to electoral rights within the EU, its Member States and � to a more limited extent � candidate states, it highlights the complex interrelationships between the procedural question of �who decides?� and the substantive question �about what?�. This interrelationship is particularly intense wherever competence (the EU jargon for legislative power) is divided or shared between more than one site of authority.


The paper also reviews in its conclusion the extent to which the invocation of the normative principle of alien suffrage influences �polity-ideas� about how the EU and its Member States ought to treat third country nationals, at least so far as regards political and electoral rights. In this �polity idea�, the concept of sovereignty is more shadow at the table than clearly articulated presence. Moreover, the paradox of the �bounded polity� and equally bounded conception of citizenship which is tied to the polity has become even more politically salient since the events of 11 September 2001 in which sovereignty has arguably re-emerged as a factor crucial to understanding the developing world order. [11] The aftermath of the terrorist attacks on that day has made a significant contribution to bringing the sovereignty debate and the debate about the fair treatment of non-nationals to centre stage. [12] The contestations which continue to exist between these competing visions of the boundaries of the polity represent, ironically, the best hope for a less-bounded and more fluid concept of membership, in a world where states and non-state polities must seek peaceful co-existence. [13]

II            Sovereignty, belonging and the state


electorate: noun (treated as sing. or pl.) all the people in a country or area who are

 entitled to vote in any election.� [14]


�Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives� [15]


The New Oxford Dictionary of English definition of the �electorate� is an example of the circular nature of so many arguments about the boundaries of the suffrage and hence of the polity. Who are those �entitled to vote�? In a democracy aspiring to apply the principle of popular sovereignty and to translate this into a practice of more or less universal suffrage, [16] this should surely be the �people� in the sense of the �demos�. Who, then, are the �people�? The �members� of the given country or area, that is, those who belong, would seem to be the obvious answer. It remains, then, to determine who decides who belongs, on what authority and how. The act of determining the group of people entitled to vote (the electorate) certainly seems logically prior to the holding of an election, but the fact of determination seems equally to presuppose some pre-political authority which claims to determine the boundaries of the polity. The conclusion must be, however, that the definition itself has taken us no closer to understanding who the �electorate� actually is. On the contrary, we need a pre-existing theory of the polity and in particular of the boundaries of the polity to lend meaning to the concept of �electorate�.


In an era of sovereign non-overlapping polities (i.e. states), the position is rather easy to determine. Membership is ascribed in large measure internally by nationality law, by reference to a range of factors such as place of birth, affiliation, marriage or longterm residence. States, as sovereign entities, have the power to make determinations of nationality. [17] They are largely free to choose whether to allow dual nationality and to determine the conditions under which naturalization or registration as a citizen for first or second generation migrants is permitted. Rainer Baub�ck terms this order of formal membership a case of territorial sovereignty; and its distinctive feature is that it claims to be complete and discrete: [18]

�Completeness means that everybody is at any point in time subject to the territorial sovereignty of a state; discreteness implies that nobody is subject to more than one state simultaneously.�

Unsurprisingly, formal membership is a necessary precursor, in this system, to the acquisition of voting rights.


Public international law, especially � in the modern era � human rights law, can step in to deal with failures in the system such as the withdrawal of nationality, expulsion from the national territory and any other denial of rights, to regulate or prevent conditions such as statelessness, and to protect groups such as refugees; private international law deals with certain types of conflicts of law (or perhaps better dissonances) which can occur between different national legal orders in relation to the differing conditions of recognition of, for example, the acquisition of nationality on marriage or affiliation conditions relating to children or grandchildren. Historically, international law tended to set its face against dual nationality as an unnecessary source of confusion, and so states could feel justified in disallowing it or seeking to reduce instances of its occurrence. More recent developments, such as the 1997 European Convention on Nationality acknowedge its utility, in particular as a means of allowing women to pass on their citizenship more easily and of facilitating the integration of immigrants without forcing them arbitrarily to renounce their former citizenship. Some authors contend that there is an increasing convergence towards a European �norm� in nationality law, with greater tolerance of dual nationality. [19]

III            Global, European and Regional Challenges


�Are we, as some contend, on the verge of developing new notions of citizenship and community, ones that successfully weave together our multiple allegiances from the local to the universal? Should the notion of individual membership in a single nationstate be replaced by an emphasis on group representation, cultural rights, and membership in multiple countries? Or would such new notions of transnational and multicultural citizenship threaten basic principles of [national] democracy? Will the shared civic identity that makes both selfgovernance and the protection of rights possible suffer if these changes come to pass?� [20]


Even though globalisation, Europeanisation and regionalisation are all contested terms which in turn designate highly contested phenomena, they certainly contribute heavily to the argument that the picture painted in the previous paragraph no longer approximates to the reality of world affairs � if, indeed, it ever did. For example, Baub�ck himself presents � in relation to states � two additional scenarios of �orders of membership� involving increasing areas of overlap between territories, namely nominal citizenship and societal membership. [21]   The former scenario complements rather than undermines the pattern of territorial sovereignty, bringing in a more complex political and legal map in which the possibilities of changes of nationality through naturalization for mobile populations are regarded as crucial to the preservation of democracy and stability via a principle of formal inclusiveness; the latter scenario, however, begins to separate out the civic, civil and social dimensions of citizenship, by focusing upon the areas of participation and entitlement ascribed to non-national migrants without the necessity for formal membership, such as participation in welfare state institutions, and access to public goods such as education and health care. Neither case, however, necessarily detaches political participation from the acquisition of formal membership, although the latter scenario highlights the contestability of political exclusion. These scenarios together highlight how states are able to deliver the paradox of internal inclusiveness founded on external exclusiveness, or what Christian Joppke calls the post-Marshallian dimension of citizenship. [22] They do not begin, however, to address the complexities of the challenge to patterns of belonging which emerge in a multi-level polity such as the EU, viewed in conjunction with both its Member States (some federal, some unitary in nature) and an emerging trans-European legal domain constructed by the Council of Europe and the OSCE. In this context, there are at least three sets of pressures pertinent to the boundaries of the suffrage which the snapshot of sovereign or even semi-sovereign overlapping states offered thus far fails adequately to capture.


Since the coming into force of the Treaty of Maastricht (1993), European Union law has guaranteed a supranational concept of �citizenship of the Union�, anchored in judicially enforceable guarantees of the free movement of persons and non-discrimination on grounds of (Member State) nationality. [23] The citizens of the Union are the nationals of the Member States (Article 17(2) EC). Citizenship of the Union builds upon an extensive heritage of free movement law, dating back to the 1950s, initially covering only economically active persons and their dependent families, but gradually extended by the Court of Justice to cover a variety of more �marginal� categories such as students and tourists. Subsequent legislative developments also covered students, retired persons and those of independent means. Together these developments were themselves often said to form a putative form of non-Treaty-based European citizenship, to which the actual Treaty rights have added little save an additional legal veneer. [24] Although the exercise of the free movement rights has often disappointed optimistic supranational policy makers, at least in terms of the numbers taking advantage of the rights if not in terms of the capacity of such rights to generate a limited form of proto �European� identity, the numbers of EU nationals resident in other Member States, whose rights are therefore substantially regulated by EU law rather than national immigration law, are not trivial. Citizenship, in other words, can be said to contribute to a polity-building scenario in relation to the EU and thus to a theory of the EU as a polity, although most discussions of this question tend to be heavily coloured by underlying attitudes as to whether this is seen as a good thing or not. What cannot be doubted are the pressures at the national level unleashed by these developments.


Second, the supranational context has developed within a wider frame of globalisation. The European Union and its Member States are by no means immune to the pressures of globalisation, including global population movements. The latter are often precipitated by the search for greater economic prosperity, by the volatility of capital investment and commodity markets, as well as by attempts to escape repressive or ineffective government regimes. All of these trends often give rise to clandestine and therefore illegal immigration. There are larger populations of third country nationals in each of the Member States than there are of nationals of other Member States (second country nationals).


The third country national was never a complete stranger to EU law, at least so far as s/he was a member of a family of an EU national taking advantage of free movement rights or was a national of a state with which the EU had contractual relations such as an Association Agreement (e.g. Turkey or Morocco, and more recently the countries of Central and Eastern Europe), but the years just before and since the millenium have seen a noticeable shift in both rhetoric and regulatory framework. The Treaty of Maastricht created the Justice and Home Affairs Third Pillar, seen largely as an ineffective regulatory framework. Partly to correct these failures, the Treaty of Amsterdam introduced the creation of an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice as an objective for the EU, and offered new policy instruments for achieving this objective. The legal framework for regulating the external and internal borders and the movement of third country nationals was reshaped around a new title within the EC Treaty and the third pillar limited to a focus on police and judicial cooperation. The Treaty of Amsterdam also brought about the incorporation of the Schengen agreement on borders into the EU legal framework. At Tampere in October 1999, the European Council approved a programme of measures to implement the Treaty provisions, a programme under which the Commission acquired a greater policy initiation role, although it continues to share this role with the Member States. The �flavour� of the emerging new policies has always remained a little uncertain, as it has paired a rhetoric of enhancing fair treatment for third country nationals, which is most obvious in a number of Commission proposals, with a securitisation agenda driven in particular by a number of Member States worried about the effects of immigration and willing to elide the differences between illegal immigration, international crime and terrorism across borders.


Finally, pressures from the regions should not be ignored. The narratives and practices of intra-state federalism within the European have undergone significant development in the last twenty years, both in terms of the creation and disintegration of states which may broadly be described as federal. One existing federation, Austria, has acceded to the EU in the last ten years, joining Germany which was an original member of the European Communities. Belgium, Italy, Spain and � latterly � the United Kingdom have each gone down sui generis routes towards devolution and regional autonomy involving the decentralisation of �national� power, in response to internal pressures for species of federalisation or even full-blown independence. New sites of electoral power and distinctively �regional� politics have been created often to diffuse claims to national autonomy. Emerging new constituencies within the EU are also evident. The regions within the EU where assemblies or parliaments have legislative powers have sought to form a more unified power bloc, [25] disillusioned at the ineffectiveness of the Committee of the Regions and concerned that the debates about the future of the EU in the supposedly representative Constitutional Convention established in February 2002 might exclude their interests. [26] The enlargement dimension of the EU has also been affected. Three former federal states (Czechoslovakia, the USSR and Yugoslavia) have collapsed or disintegrated, with huge bloodshed in the latter case. In all three cases their disappearance as states has altered the geopolitical configuration of candidate states seeking EU membership.


In sum, overlapping polities, complex constellations of power and authority linked with a variety of international, supranational, national and regional institutions, and substantial populations of non-national residents characterise the EU and its Member States, a phenomenon set to continue also with the envisaged enlargements of the next few years to include many states with historically rather fuzzy notions of statehood and citizenship. How has each of these sets of pressures and changes impacted upon the political participation rights of non-nationals and the reconstruction of the boundaries of the suffrage? To what extent is the scope of nationality now the exclusive test of belonging for the purposes of determining who can vote, and � wherever this remains the case � how much longer could it continue to fulfil this function given the potentially disruptive effects of large numbers of resident non-nationals? Will nationality, in practice, cede ground as a test of affiliation for the purposes of electoral rights to the increasingly open-textured concept of citizenship, where gradations of entitlement linked to varying intensities of belonging to a particular polity are quite common? Indeed, most polities increasingly accord a range of citizenship-type entitlements, especially welfare state benefits and access to public goods such as health and education, to resident non-nationals, even though in some states this practice remains politically contested and raises demands for strict divisions to be drawn between legal and illegal immigrants. Some states, especially those in Eastern Europe which see themselves as �kin-states�, have also enacted laws purporting to give preferential treatment to co-ethnics abroad. [27] Both of these developments challenge the ideal type of the territorial state, and the assumption that the regulation of personal status will be overwhelmingly bounded by concepts of territory and citizenship bonded together, or at least that states will predominantly concerned with the regulation of those who reside on their territory.


In the domain of electoral rights, to what extent have the EU and its Member States already adopted what might be termed the liberal and cosmopolitan principle of alien suffrage? Do they accept the normative claim that states ought, on grounds of the protection of human rights and/or the furtherance of inclusive democracy, to include within at least some dimensions of the franchise (e.g. for local elections) those longterm resident non-nationals who have formed substantial connections with their new place of residence as a result of the duration or type of residence? So far as they have done, have we indeed moved to a scenario of postnational membership? Has the immigration sovereignty of liberal states substantially dissolved?


In the EU, �European citizenship� rights have since 1993 included the right for EU citizens resident in a Member State other than the one of which they have nationality to stand and vote in local elections and European parliamentary elections. They represent much of the limited added value of Maastricht�s citizenship provisions. Peter Oliver calls them �a valuable step towards (the) fuller integration� of Community migrants in the host state. [28] Although there had previously been initiatives from the Commission for widening the suffrage in relation to local elections and from the European Parliament in relation to the scope of its own electorate, no measures were introduced until the Treaty of Maastricht. Two Council Directives were adopted in the mid-1990s to instrumentalise the Treaty rights contained in Article 19 EC and the Commission has been tasked with monitoring implementation and � if necessary � taking action before the Court of Justice on the basis of Article 226 EC in respect national failures to implement the rules. [29] It did this with Belgium, and has threatened it also in respect of a number of German L�nder. As part of the acquis communautaire, these electoral rights must be adopted also by the candidate states, and this dimension of compliance is policed also, in the first instance, by the Commission in its role as negotiator and reporter to the Member States which must ultimately agree accession. [30] Since 2000, the electoral rights have also featured in the EU�s own Charter of Fundamental Rights (Articles 39 and 40). [31] Whatever the novelty of the electoral rights, take up rates have been extremely low, [32] both in terms of voting and standing, and there is little evidence at the national level of political parties adjusting many aspects of their political programmes to tailor them to the particular types of issues which residence as an EU citizen in another Member State might be expected to raise. Formally, the new electoral rights could therefore be said to be a failure. The boundaries of EU suffrage remain state-centred, as EU citizenship is premised upon Article 17(2) EC and upon the EU citizen having already the nationality of one of the Member States. Even so, they represent one case of partial alien suffrage, restricted to certain forms of elections and certain categories of beneficiaries, and adopted not because there have been moves at national level to improve the treatment given to migrants, but because of supranational legal fiat put in place by the consent of the Member States to treaty amendments and to the extension of the purview of the EU.


Meanwhile, the political participation of resident third country nationals remains a matter for national law within the EU Member States, although a number of Member States have joined other European states in signing up to the Council of Europe�s Convention on the Political Participation of Foreigners in Local Life. [33] Concluded in 1992, the Convention entered into force in 1997. Of the Member States, Denmark, Finland (most recently), Italy (partially), the Netherlands and Sweden have ratified. The United Kingdom has signed, but not ratified. It offers a template of incremental steps towards enhancing the political participation rights of non-nationals, up to and including the right to vote in local elections; signatories commit themselves to implementing these, but there are � as with most international instruments � no sanctions for non-compliance. The case made for the Convention is strongly �liberal democratic�, as direct references in the Explanatory Report to the values of the Council of Europe including �individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, which form the basis of all genuine democracy, and its attachment to the universal and indivisible nature of human rights and fundamental freedoms� make clear. These inspirations are reflected in the Preamble. The incremental template set up by the Convention envisages a staged introduction of three levels of political participation rights by signatory states, although the states may �opt out� of the second and third stages. [34] The first stage, which in essence just complements the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, protects the basic civil liberties of foreigners by according them freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, on the same basis as nationals. [35] The second level involves consultative bodies to represent foreign residents at local level; and the third and final level involves the right to vote in local authority elections. The political institutions of the Council of Europe have returned to the theme of political participation of foreigners in local elections in more recent times, with the Parliamentary Assembly adopting a Recommendation in January 2001 urging contracting states to introduce further rights for migrants, including the right to vote and stand in local elections to those established for a minimum of three years. [36] D�Oliveira suggests that the Convention, which refers simply to �every foreign resident�, is part of a framework of international law (he is not specific about the other instruments upon which he relies for his argument) which casts doubt on whether it is permissible for a distinction to be drawn between nationals of the Member States and others when granting voting rights. [37] On the other hand, others have argued that while the relevant provisions are not entirely consistent, the right to vote is one of the few rights in international law which may validly be limited to citizens. [38] Even so, it is important to cite other sources of international law which may buttress the approach taken in the Convention, including the Lund Recommendations on national minorities adopted within the context of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the approach taken by the Commissioner of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) on Democratic Development. The former measures are aimed at �national� minorities who can be expected to have national citizenship and so have limited relevance to the immigration scenario. [39] The CBSS Commissioner has reported on the situation with regard to voting rights and the right to stand for public office in the Member States of the Council, and recommended that these states adhere to the Council of Europe Convention and institute voting and standing rights for non-nationals. [40] Also relevant is the mirror image scenario, namely the permissible means of providing fair treatment for co-ethnics abroad, bearing in mind that this constitutes an interference in state sovereignty. The Council of Europe�s European Commission for Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission) accepted a report in late October 2001 which represents the first step towards the development of international norms governing kin-state policy towards co-ethnics abroad. [41]


Inevitably, there are considerable differences of approach amongst the Member States on this matter, ranging from a relatively inclusive approach (e.g. in Ireland, the Netherlands and the Nordic states), to complete � constitutionally based � exclusion of non-nationals from all aspects of an avowedly national demos (notably in Germany). Some Member States adopt a policy of partial inclusion (the UK gives electoral rights to Commonwealth and Irish citizens, but for all elections) or inclusion based on reciprocity (e.g. Spain). In some Member States, such as Belgium, France and Italy, there is ongoing contestation within the legislature about third country national voting rights. Overall, adoption of the principle of alien suffrage is still rather patchy, although a majority of eight out of fifteen Member States now confer at least some rights. Calls at the national level, especially from left of centre parties and migrants� organisations, to narrow down or even eliminate those gaps in entitlements between different categories of migrants which are based on the incident of EU citizenship have resonated in the European Parliament. It adopted resolutions calling for the extension of the local franchise in the Member States to third country nationals. [42] However, when the Commission proposed a draft Directive on the rights of longterm resident third country nationals, it expressed the opinion that there was no EU competence to require the Member States to enact electoral rights under the legal basis which it used for the proposal (Article 63 EC), [43] and the European Parliament accepted this supposition regarding competence in its amendments to the initiative. This competence argument (developed further in Section V [44] ) echoes an earlier, pre-Maastricht, competence argument in relation to voting rights for EU citizens themselves (see Section IV).


At the regional level, new political structures seem to call for the determination of electorates without reference to the test offered by an exclusive legal form of belonging (i.e. nationality) which by definition can only attach to the national state. To recognise the �nationality� of a region would seem, on the contrary, in effect to recognise its independence, which is precisely what the regional structures are generally intended to avoid. In the case of the UK, internal �federalisation� determined by legislation adopted by the national Westminster parliament takes the form of the denial rather than the partial recognition of a continuing claim by some political forces to national sovereignty (Scotland, Wales). [45] This denial is linked to an attempt to diffuse that radical claim into a more muted form of regional autonomy or �devolution� of varying degrees of intensity. This may be one reason why the elections to the devolved political institutions in Scotland and Wales have been assimilated to local elections under UK electoral law, rather than to national elections. The same position applied to the election of a new Mayor in London. [46] Consequently, resident EU nationals entitled to vote in municipal elections under Article 19 and Directive 94/80 do form part of the nationally-defined franchise for these elections (and indeed in the regional referendums which preceded each of these elections to ascertain whether the regional �people� wanted new forms of representation or political authority [47] ). The UK has thus diffused the EU electoral rights down to the regional level, and tied this cosmopolitan development in an interesting way to the internal federalisation of the UK. This scenario is not reflected in other Member States such as Germany and Austria where L�nder elections are assimilated to national elections.


The points outlined here set the stage for the remaining task of this paper, that of illuminating the contestations which surround the determination of the boundaries of the suffrage. The next three sections focus, in turn, on contestations within the EU institutions and between the institutions and the Member States; on the contestability of electoral rights in national political discourse; and on the development of the EU�s wider and indeed deeper role in relation to third country migrants. To be sure, these sections also highlight the need � at a conceptual level � to reconsider the continuing relevance of traditional state-centred concepts of sovereignty, and the need for theories which explain both the persistence as well as the transformation of recognisable forms of sovereignty, whether by reference to legal pluralism or concepts of multi-level governance. That task is beyond the scope of this paper. What is noticeable, however, is the frequency with which deeper ideological arguments about the ethical claims of third country nationals, for example, are refracted in EU discourse into that much more banal level and form of internal sovereignty debate, namely the dispersion of competences and powers amongst a plurality of public authorities within a multi-level governance system, especially one as unstable and unfinished as the European Union. This concerns the debate about who (i.e. the Member States or the EC/EU or a combination of both through the medium of shared competence) ought to regulate questions such as immigration policy governing the conditions of entry of nationals of third states and the status of third country nationals already resident within the Member States (including their political rights).

IV            Electoral rights and the EU institutions: conception, competence, compromise and compliance


�Every citizen of the Union has the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at elections to the European Parliament in the Member State in which he or she resides, under the same conditions as nationals of that State.�


�Every citizen of the Union has the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at municipal elections in the Member State in which he or she resides under the same conditions as nationals of that State.� [48]


The institution of a limited range of EU electoral rights in 1993 as part of the Maastricht citizenship package represented for the EU institutions, especially the Commission and the European Parliament, the culmination of a longstanding debate. Debates about the scope of the EU suffrage dated back to the early 1960s when they were first raised in the European Parliament in the context of discussions on direct elections. [49] There are a number of historical roots to the present day discussions. D�Oliveira highlighted the twin roots of the current electoral rights as �the emergence of a Community or Union collectivity� and the �principles of democracy�. [50] Thus on the one hand, the debates about electoral rights grew out of the development of free movement rights under the Treaty and through the case law of the Court of Justice; in legal literatures dating back to the 1970s there were calls for such �free movers� to be conceived as �Community citizens�. [51] Electoral rights on this view are rights ancillary to the practice of migration by EU citizens, rights to be established by the EU acting as a protective polity in order to foster a deeper sense of involvement on the part of the EU migrant with the host state and with certain aspects of its political culture, and to limit the prejudice in terms of the loss of political rights which the migrant may suffer as a result of moving away from her home state.


This in turn connects to the second root of EU electoral rights, namely the impulse towards greater formal democratization of the institutions of European integration through popular participation, especially moves coming from within the European Parliament. Members of the original �Assembly� discussed the issue of allocating certain voting rights on the basis of residence rather than nationality when debating the introduction of direct elections, from the 1960s onwards. It seemed illogical to many participants in the debate to suggest direct elections without safeguarding the completeness of the democratic principle by extending voting rights also to those who had taken advantage of the free movement rights guaranteed by the Treaty. A link to a putative �citizenship� for the emergent �Euro-polity� was again then swiftly made, especially by the European Commission, which later made concrete suggestions for local election voting rights, only finally adopted in the Treaty of Maastricht. [52]


Jeffrey Lewis has researched the negotiation of the terms of the local elections directive as a case study of the work of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) as a crucial cog in the EU�s decision-making structures. [53] His interview data suggests that the Treaty of Maastricht was decisive in giving the European Community competence to adopt the local elections directive. Although the issue had had plenty of political salience when it was a proposal from the Commission, and not inconsiderable support from some quarters, Lewis� interviewees at Coreper doubted whether or not the EC Treaty before Maastricht conferred the necessary competence to act on the European Community. Yet the Member States have often been willing in policy domains as sensitive as sex equality law, environmental policy and consumer protection to use the residual legal basis of what was then Article 235 EC (now, post-Amsterdam, Article 308 EC) to adopt legislation by means of a unanimous vote in order to further the Community�s objectives when there was no other specific legal basis in the Treaty, and it could arguably have done so again with electoral rights. The �lack of competence� argument was more likely to have been more about reinforcing that it was simply too early for the then European Community � until citizenship had been constitutionalised by the Treaty of Maastricht � to engage so deeply with the local electoral sovereignty of the Member States. In particular, only with the �constitutionalisation� of citizenship, could those Member States which needed national constitutional amendments in order to implement the electoral rights be expected to act. [54] Lewis acknowledges this point by referring to the effects of the �grand bargain� and package deal of Maastricht.


When it came to implementing the Maastricht provisions, it was the local elections directive which proved to be the more controversial and difficult to negotiate through the EU political process. The European Parliamentary elections directive, which did not in the same way impugn the electoral sovereignty of the Member States as it was not seen as engaging in a direct way with how they govern themselves, passed through relatively unproblematically. The Commission and the European Parliament had some early skirmishes over the issue of qualifying residence periods in the local elections directive, [55] and both the European Parliament and ECOSOC felt that they were substantially disenfranchised within the political process because of the restrictive nature of the legislative procedure laid down in Article 18 EC. [56] However, these skirmishes were overshadowed by the crucial negotiation phases within Coreper.


The Commission�s draft directive was presented to Council in April 1994 but was referred to Coreper soon thereafter. It only came back to the General Affairs Council in December 1994, where it was effectively rubber stamped by the ministers on the basis of the political compromise reached in Coreper. [57] Coreper was given the file to deal with not because it was a narrow technical issue � the traditional image of what Coreper is there to deal with in the EU institutional system � but precisely because it was too political. Had the debate been politicised, through Council discussions, a decision might never have been reached � and certainly not so quickly as it was. Lewis argues that the socialisation processes of Coreper have created an ideal decision-making environment for this and other challenging dossiers, creating, in the case of the local elections directive, the frame for cross-national understanding of crucial domestic political difficulties of some Member States, whilst also achieving what might be regarded as a surprisingly high level of �equal treatment� for resident non-national EU voters. Hence generalised residency requirements were removed from the original Commission draft, but the capacity to reserve leadership roles such as the position of mayor for nationals preserved national sensitivities over sovereignty. Special arrangements for EU voters must be made at the national level, so that states such as Denmark are not allowed to deem compliance with the Treaty and the Directive simply by applying their existing alien suffrage arrangements which subject non-nationals to a three year residency requirement. This reinforced the process of distinguishing between second and third country nationals. Likewise French attempts to institute a partial quota system for EU representatives in municipalities with over 20% non-national EU citizens in the electorate was received sympathetically, but ultimately fell victim to pressure to enact a measure within the spirit of the Maastricht citizenship provisions. Even so, a special derogation was effectively enacted for Luxembourg. It covered Member States where the proportion of EU voters in the whole state on January 1 1996 was more than 20% of the electorate; such Member States are entitled to restrict the right to vote to those satisfying a qualifying residence period of no more than the term of office of the municipal council, and the right to stand to those satisfying a qualifying residence period of no more than twice the term of office of the municipal council (Article 12(1)). Only Luxembourg falls into this category. [58]


Particular attention was paid in Coreper to the case of Belgium where it was evident that application of the directive could alter delicately balanced linguistic majorities/minorities within municipalities (involving French speakers, Dutch speakers and German speakers). Since its original �communautaire� enthusiasm for local electoral rights as a nation state �at the heart of Europe�, Belgium had had to face up to a very different political problem in the context of its own very delicately balanced federal arrangements for the various linguistic communities. It was evident that it was quite out of the question for the Belgian government to achieve the necessary constitutional change which required the consent of all communities without a derogation. Lewis maintains that the members of Coreper were able to be sympathetic to and react to the Belgian Ambassador�s need for a derogation, based on these domestic political constraints. These domestic political constraints were better understood by the Ambassadors, socialised in the world of Coreper and living in Brussels, than they would have been by the Ministers themselves, who might have been tempted to make political capital. Unlike some of the other arguments put forward by national delegations the Belgian argument was seen to be a �good� argument, one which could be accepted in the national capitals provided it was carefully presented by the Ambassadors to their political masters and mistresses. Overall, Coreper operated as a functional decision-making forum in which national arguments for special treatment could be heard, evaluated and either accepted or rejected, without posturing or threats of vetos, or quid pro quo concessions which led to a �race to the bottom� in terms of the content of decisions adopted.


Detailed scrutiny of the implementation and application of the directive at national level and of the lack of impact at the domestic level in terms of visibility and take-up of the electoral rights is not included in this paper. [59] In some respects, compliance at national level has been a field of contestation. In any event, the high level of variation in arrangements for local government at the national level combined with the absence of a provision in the directive requiring Member States to report comprehensively on implementation have made this a difficult dossier for the Commission to pursue. [60]


The most obvious case of non-compliance with the local elections directive was that of Belgium; despite its special derogations, Belgium still failed to implement the directive, until after it had been the subject of an enforcement action in the Court of Justice brought by the Commission. [61] It was almost a formality for the Court to declare that Belgium had failed to comply with its treaty obligations. Thereafter, Belgium did comply, and by the deadline for registration, some 17.3% of the eligible 496,000 EU nationals had registered to vote in the October 2000 local elections, which were the first set of municipal elections which they could vote in, and this despite the compulsory nature of voting in Belgium. [62] This was, however, a considerable increase on the 7.71% of eligible EU citizens who registered to vote in the 1999 European Parliamentary elections.


At the national level, despite generalised apathy, some EU citizens have found themselves dissatisfied with the scope of the provisions and have sought redress. For example, an Italian citizen resident in Vienna began an action in the Austrian courts, contesting his exclusion from the electoral roll in relation to in the Vienna city elections. Vienna is both a city and a Land and elections to the latter are not included in the EU provisions; for the purposes of the local elections directive, it is the Bezirke (municipalities), not the city itself which represents the relevant local governmental authorities where EU citizens can vote. It was held by the Austrian Constitutional Court that because the City Council has the power to make laws it is quite proper that both the Council Directive on local elections and also the implementing Austrian leglsiation should provide that an EU citizen does not have the right to vote in the City Council elections, but only in elections at the level of Bezirke. Consequently, the exclusion of EU nationals was in conformity with Austrian law and EU law. [63] The Court also refused to refer the case to the Court of Justice under Article 234 EC, and sidestepped an attempted challenge by the complainant to the legality of the local elections directive itself, on the grounds that it infringed the principle of non-discrimination between EU nationals.

V            Opening the national Pandora�s boxes: electoral rights in national political discourse


�Today there is simply not the political will to address the issue of voting rights at the national level�. [64]


�Je n�ai pas chang� politiquement. J��tais et je reste favourable � l�octroi du droit de vote aux �trangers. Mais je sais aussi que, dans le meilleur des cas, m�me si l�on devait voter le 12 mars, tout cela n�adviendrait pas avant 2006, ann�e durant laquelle se d�roulera le prochain scrutin communal. D�s lors et dans ces conditions, il serait pour le moins in�l�gant de mettre en difficult� un partenaire du gouvernement.� [65]


This section focuses upon the contestability of electoral rights for non-nationals within national political discourse, above and beyond the more specialised question of EU electoral rights. EU electoral rights are, after all, a species of migrants� rights, [66] and so they intersect with fundamental questions which must be answered in order to determine the boundaries of any polity, especially questions about immigration and ethnic relations policies and politics, nationality law, the culture of national politics, and the scope and nature of the demos at national as well as at the Union level. Even so, a �national politics� of ethnic relations or immigration is a complex phenomenon. Correlations might be expected, for example, between party attitudes towards immigration and the degree of penetration of non-national electoral rights into the national political cultures. The invocation, by national politicians, of a sense of belonging, membership and identity associated with the territorial state is, as we shall see, quite common in discourse on electoral rights.


Proponents of alien suffrage must address the conundrum of how to combine a sense of cosmopolitanism as a defence against tribalism with a sense of bounded communities as a defence against rootlessness. The case for alien suffrage is typically supported by versions of liberalism/liberal democracy, with a splash of cosmopolitanism (e.g. a putative international �right to democracy�), and a desire to bring voting rights onto a continuum of inclusion rather than confining them to the dichotomy of membership (i.e. yes/no and in/out). [67] Consequently, it downplays the significance of (formal legal) national citizenship, and concentrates upon issues of �societal membership� highlighted above. [68] This is a concept which combines both empirical observation of the extent of migrant incorporation in host societies, and a normative element contending that host polities ought in principle to seek to include migrants within societal frameworks including political institutions. Societal membership presupposes a relatively high degree of non-exclusivity in the affinity of the migrant, and assumes substantial overlap as a result between different polities.


Meanwhile, the case against alien suffrage is generally premised upon versions of communitarianism combined with a formalist notion of boundaries and membership. Assumptions are sometimes made about the capacity of the non-national to play the role of the active citizen in a �thick� republican conception of citizenship, because of doubts about shared commitments or loyalties. The strength � in practice � of the case against is well evidenced by the fact that the majority of EU Member States (and especially the most populous states) grant no or only very restricted alien suffrage to third country nationals above and beyond the requirements of EU law. Pessimistically, Lardy suggests that the fact

�that such proposals have rarely been discussed seriously in modern times is, however, more likely a reflection of the preoccupation with territorial sovereignty which characterizes the modern State than an objection to the franchise extension based on principles rooted in political theory... In many States the issue appears never to have arisen; the restriction of voting rights to legal citizens is regarded as a reasonable and administratively convenient device for delimiting the electorate, and one which requires no justification.� [69]


Where voting rights have been extended, the reasons for the extension have varied considerably. In the Scandinavian countries, for example, pressure often originated in Social Democratic political parties. The initial drive by the Swedish Social Democrats in the 1970s to extend the franchise stemmed from their belief, according to Zig Layton-Henry, that

�to exclude long-term residents from voting not only violated principles of representative democracy, but would foster divisions between natives and immigrants and would encourage the neglect of immigrants� grievances, thus fostering alienation and bitterness.� [70]

In other words, it was associated with a policy of integration. Voting rights extensions have not invariably been associated with liberal states. One of the few recent examples of the extension of the right to vote to non-nationals involved the case of foreign workers, or VertragsarbeiterInnen in the German Democratic Republic. Right at the death of the GDR, in 1990, a new law was promulgated that enabled this group of 100-200,000 persons to vote at all levels after six months of residency. Ironically, few of them remained much longer in the united Germany, just as the law itself did not survive reunification. Many foreigners were sent home with one way tickets just before German reunification in 1990. [71]


In the United Kingdom, the extension of the franchise to Commonwealth and Irish citizens appears to be widely seen across political parties as an historical accident. [72] In a recent debate in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Douglas Hogg suggested that

�If we were starting from scratch, we probably would not extend the franchise to citizens of the Commonwealth or Ireland. Their right to vote has happened for historical reasons, but it is quite difficult, if one sets about defining why people should have the vote, to say with any great confidence that citizens of Ireland or the Commonwealth should have it.� [73]

His views were quite closely echoed in the views of the Labour Government minister, George Howarth MP:

�Whatever the historical reasons for their existence, the arrangements with the Commonwealth should not necessarily be taken as a precedent for arrangements with other countries that currently do not apply.� [74]


The same debate on a Bill to extend the franchise to excluded categories of nationals framed a wider discussion on the possible extension of the franchise to all non-nationals. Labour MP Harry Barnes proposed an amendment to this effect. He argued for residence-based �citizenship� on the grounds that those who are resident in a given polity are affected by decisions made by political representatives, and should therefore have the right to participate in their election. Finding himself largely alone in the House of Commons in making the argument for alien suffrage and residence-based voting, Barnes appealed to cosmopolitanism:

�We now have a cosmopolitan world in which people move in and out of different areas. It is not always clear to people what their nation is. However, it is clear where they are, and the Government and administration responsible for making decisions that immediately affect their lives at that time can be clearly identified. We should develop electoral registration that is based on those circumstances, while recognising that there is sense in terms of citizenship.� [75]

Opposition to the amendment, which was eventually withdrawn without vote, centred on maintaining the reciprocal link between the citizen and the state. According to Liberal Democrat MP Robert MacLennan:

�the state has the duty to look after its citizens, and the citizen must exercise his or her duty to be interested in how that service is provided. The notion of citizenship would be under challenge, perhaps even under threat, if that very considerable right were partly diminished by being no longer a characteristic of citizenship, but simply the happenstance of residence.� [76]

His views were echoed by Douglas Hogg

�the right of voting � the duty to vote � runs with citizenship. It is part of that relationship with society that involves affinity and allegiance; it is part of being a member of a society� I certainly do not think that (the right to vote) should arise simply from the fact that a person is affected by the consequences of legislation.� [77]

Looking at the varying success and failure stories of campaigns to widen the franchise, commentators regularly conclude that the primary determinant of extensions of the franchise remains the possibility of coalitions between major national political parties. [78] Interestingly, in fact, as Dirk Jacobs has shown by comparing the cases of the Netherlands and Belgium, arguments about the nature of the national polity can be used � in different settings � both to support (the Netherlands) and to contest (Belgium) the enfranchisement of resident aliens. In the Netherlands, the decision after ten years of parliamentary debate to extend municipal voting rights to non-nationals who had been resident in the Netherlands for at least five years was taken in the context of what he terms a �discourse coalition� based on a temporary hybrid of different inclusionary and mildly exclusionary discourses coming from different positions on the political spectrum. The step was taken so that the government appeared to be doing something at a key point in time about certain acute inter-ethnic tensions, but this �something� was in fact based on a secret agreement amongst the principal political actors not to promote open discussion in order to restrict the capacity of the extreme political right to find a platform for its segregationist exclusionary discourse. In Belgium, where the issue has remained under constant political scrutiny and an amendment to Article 8 of the Constitution on citizenship was put in place in 1998 to allow the adoption of a law granting electoral rights to third country nationals to be adopted no earlier than January 1 2001, no such opportunity for a decisive discourse coalition has yet arisen. On the contrary, as the quotation from Louis Michel, Belgian Foreign Minister, at the head of this section tellingly highlights, the issue fell victim in early 2002 to the complexities of the Belgium coalition government system. A proposal for the necessary legislative measure had been placed before the Senate and was due to be voted in March 2002, but faced opposition from Flemish participants in the current Belgian coalition government � themselves under electoral and political pressure from the extreme rightwing and nationalist Vlaamse Blok. In contrast, there is near unanimity across political forces within the Brussels-Capital region and Wallonia about the desirability of extending voting rights to third country nationals. By demonstrating his unwillingness to see a measure adopted at the present, Michel effectively undermined the proposals before Senate. His reasoning was that he did not wish to embarrass a coalition member over an issue which would not become a reality until 2006, when the next local elections will be held. Immigrants� rights were sacrificed to a greater political good, although Michel expressed his intention to see that the issue was made part of the political programme of the next national government, which he has every intention of heading up. [79] On 12 March 2002, a proposal on third country national voting rights was rejected in the Internal Affairs Committee of the Belgian Senate [80] and this was followed on 28 March 2002 by a close vote in plenary (36 votes to 33) against the measure. The expendability of the measure as far as the centre-right Flemish Liberal party was concerned was well illustrated by a comment by its leader, Karel de Grucht: �It�s not something that if you don�t give it, it breaches a fundamental right.� [81]


A closer look at the immigration politics and histories of Germany and Austria illuminates the nature of political contestations within polities with an historically �ethnic� conception of the demos, but with current political debates over immigration and integration.


Germany has no active political debate about alien suffrage for third country nationals at the present time. An emerging constitutional debate driven largely at the regional level by the efforts of two L�nder � Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg � to extend the right to vote and run for office at local level to non-nationals was brought to a rather abrupt conclusion by rulings on the part of the Federal Constitutional Court determining that alien suffrage (beyond the precepts of EU law) is currently not constitutionally possible in Germany. [82] These judgments were based upon the �popular sovereignty� principle enshrined in the German constitution which attaches in turn to the principles upon which German nationality law was at that time based, namely ius sanguinis. [83] It is possible that the issue could be reviewed again, in the future, following the successful � if contested � revision of the citizenship law brought about in the wake of unification and the election of the Red-Green coalition in 1998. [84] Indeed, the 1998 Coalition Agreement between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens when they entered government together declared that �to promote integration, those foreigners living here who do not possess the citizenship of an EU Member State shall also receive the right to vote in district and local elections.� [85] However, the principle cannot be instituted without a constitutional amendment. In this instance, Germany�s principle of the federal dispersion of power cedes ground to the principle of constitutional supremacy.


In the meantime, the issue will not be pushed by either the SPD or the Greens. According to an SPD spokesperson, �Politicians are agreed that the topic was simply not one in which the party could engage even with its own members let alone society at large�. [86] There do exist some local campaigns to support at least the existing electoral rights, such as that in Hessen, where the SPD actively sought the support of EU nationals, organized meetings with other social-democratic sister organisations, such as PASOK (Greece) and translated leaflets. However, these are localised positions: �There is no national policy, though, it differs from town to town�. [87] In view of the Greens, the constitutional barrier means there is no current chance of change: �The fact that a two-thirds majority would be needed to amend the constitution without CDU support means it was simply pointless attempting to pursue this issue. There are no victories if you struggle too hard.� [88] The changes to the citizenship law were, in the view of the Greens, already a significant change. They welcomed changes such as a more standardised procedure lessening discretion given to public officials in each of the L�nder, and in particular the weakening of ius sanguinis: �The principle of jus soli was the most important element of the new law.� [89] Concerns surround the requirement to opt at the age of 23 for German or another citizenship: �All agree especially the first generation that they don�t want to lose their Turkish passport. It�s like a picture of your family in the bedroom. They feel that the new citizenship is like forcing them to hand over this picture.� [90]


The conservative CDU continues to refer back to the symbols and �perks� of citizenship: �citizenship rights are a privilege for those who belong, and �if such rights are proliferated for the many then they are no longer special for the few.� [91] The rhetoric sometimes comes rather close to a form of narrow ethnocentrism: �A child�s connection to his or her parents is the most important issue, not the political community and this is something that needs to be cherished. While a child of Turkish parents can join the political community via the jus soli, his or her language and culture are Turkish.� [92] The CDU has also managed to campaign quite successfully to prevent the proliferation of dual nationality, by presenting what was proposed by the SPD/Green coalition as amounting to the granting of a special right particularly benefiting Turkish population.


From mid 2001 onwards the debate was dominated by proposals brought forward by the governing coalition for a new immigration law to foster the immigration of skilled and highly qualified foreigners into Germany, in particular in order to address skills shortages in the German labour market. Part of the political controversy which the draft law has attracted is the contrast which it provides with a soaring domestic unemployment rate of over 10 per cent in January 2002. Conservative Chancellor candidate Edmund Stoiber epitomised the debate when he declared that �with 4.3 million unemployed, we can�t have more foreign workers coming to Germany� who is going to pay for integrating these workers. I�ve not heard the chancellor saying he�ll give the billions it will cost to pay for this. Will industry pay?� [93] The draft law originated in a report from a independent Commission appointed by the Interior Minister Schily, which was published in July 2001. The Commission was chaired by a member of the CDU, Rita S�ssmuth, and the report (Arranging immigration, promoting integration) [94] made the case for planned and targeted immigration. This moves away from the rather more haphazard admission of some 200,000 � 300,000 newcomers per year which occurs at present on the basis of family unification, asylum seekers and ethnic Germans.


By March 2002, the draft law was in serious trouble in the German parliament, particularly in the Upper House, the Bundesrat, where the respresentatives of the L�nder sit. In view of the impending national elections in September 2002 to the Bundestag, the SPD/Green coalition was unwilling to see the draft immigration law � which would be Germany�s first ever � mired in a joint commission of the two houses, as that would be likely to prevent its adoption. After its approval in the Bundestag by 320 votes to 225, the law was passed in the Bundesrat on 22 March 2002 by the narrowest of margins (35 votes to 34). The representatives of the state of Brandenburg, ruled by a coalition of the SPD and CDU were split on the issue, but ultimately the vote went with the SPD Prime Minister who voted in favour, bringing with him Brandenburg�s four votes. Normally, in those circumstances, as Land votes must be cast as a block, the state would abstain. [95] The move provoked a constitutional crisis, with the opposition members of the Bundesrat walking out and insisting � backed up by a threat of legal action � that the Federal President Johannes Rau should not pass the draft into law. [96] As a Social Democrat himself, it seemed likely that Rau would eventually approve the law, although he did not act hastily.


The political furore in March 2002 re-emphasised that immigration policy is largely a smokescreen for the real debate which continues to divide the parties in Germany, the question of the integration of foreigners and what this means in terms of national culture and even sovereignty. For immigration itself will continue � regardless of whether the law is enacted. Consequently, the argument made by a CDU leader that the �law would completely change German society within a few years� seems apocalyptic. [97] On the other hand, it may well represent a substantial strand of public opinion, since some polls do suggest that between nine and 25 per cent of German voters would support an anti-immigrant party in the 2002 elections. Further fuel was added to the debate when former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt published a new book in which he claimed that Germany had admitted too many foreigners, whom it could not properly assimilate, and that Germans were really xenophobes at heart. [98]


Political opposition to immigration has also re-entered the Austrian political mainstream in recent years, since the formation in early 2000 of the controversial coalition government involving the People�s Party (�VP) and the Freedom Party (FP�) then led by J�rg Haider. This event also precipitated similarly controversial �sanctions� against Austria by the other fourteen Member States of the EU. The FP� achieved its success which delivered it political power in the federal elections of October 1999 on the back of a political programme incorporating opposition to the cosy system of Proporz, a form of political patronage, presided over by the the Social Democrats (SP�) and the �VP for 40 years, allowing them to carve up all major positions in government and the public sector, plus a policy opposing further immigration into Austria. Its 1999 election manifesto referred to Austria being �swamped by foreigners�, and it made use of the discredited Nazi term �berfremdung in the context of Vienna. Somewhat moderated since then, its rhetoric is still determinedly anti-multiculturalism:

�I don�t see why we must be multi-cultural. You see what kind of difficulties it makes in most countries. Our country has more [immigrants] [in proportion to size] than other countries. They should become more Austrian those who want to say here � learn German, enter into our culture � but we don�t want to have more of them.� [99]

However, the Austrian Government�s official position shows how it has taken pains to reaffirm its position within the European political mainstream, declaring its future to be at the �heart of Europe�. [100] �Modern� Austria is, of course, a relatively young state, and some of its postwar self-image has been constructed on the basis of a sense of Austria more as victim than as perpertrator of Nazi atrocities. However, the Government Declaration likewise commits Austria to a self-critical scrutiny of its National Socialist past.


Postwar reconstruction also involved the development of Austria into a federal republic in which the nine L�nder administer nationality law. [101] There are also strong discretionary elements in the naturalisation process, and the most recent amendments in 1998 were concerned with tidying up weaknesses in the current laws resulting from anomalies, such as whether a language test was required, in the application by the L�nder, and were not an attempt to liberalise the laws. Austria�s nationality laws remain substantially based on ius sanguinis, with little space for dual nationality, a point actively supported by the current government:

�People with double citizenship can only be loyal with reservation. Double citizenship discriminated against Austrians, because they only had one citizenship, which will increase the danger of political conflict. Those who apply for Austrian citizenship should want to be integrated fully and not attach more importance to another land and there is no possibility of deportation for convicts. In my opinion two identities are impossible.� [102]

The point is further illuminated by the FP�/�VP coalition agreement. While declaring their commitment to democracy and human rights, the two parties grouped �Internal security and the integration of immigrants� under the same heading in the following terms:

�3.9 The granting of Austrian citizenship marks the completion of successful integration. The criteria for acquiring citizenship must be observed. The path to citizenship should be laid out as a process of ever closer integration. The ultimate granting of citizenship should not be a purely administrative formality but should be given a proper form (by holding naturalisation ceremonies in a festive style.

3.10 One of the requirements should be verifiable proof of German language skills and of basic knowledge about Austria and the European Union. This proof can be furnished by submitting a certificate of the successful attendance of a certified adult education course or by passing a test.�

Austria remains an exception to any putative European trend towards �the harmonisation and liberalisation of citizenship acquisition by immigrants and their descendants�. [103] Baub�ck and �inar maintain however that it is not a conception of the nation as an ethnic community which drives such restrictive policies, but rather an attempt to close the Austrian welfare state off from �strangers� as much as possible.


Electoral rights for non-nationals, beyond the confines of EU law, are simply not an issue at the present time in Austria. According to the SP�: �Today there is simply not the political will to address the issue of voting rights at the national level�. [104] Nominally, the SP� might be expected to be in favour of widening the suffrage. Indeed, they admit that �Our theoretical goal is close to the Greens, but in practice in the world of politics it is ncessary to make compromises�. [105] As the same interviewee indicated, the fear of losing political capital has motivated debate: �Between 1989 and 1993, with over 120,000 immigrants in Vienna, no one within the SP� continued to talk about voting rights for third country nationals�. However, the SP� in Vienna was responsible for a more limited project for third country national rights, by establishing the Integration Fund. This latter body has a proposed a model for the city whereby immigrants can vote for a representative body which is then able to consult with the municipal council. The Steering Committee for the Fund is the Kuratorium, established by the City. It issues guidelines for the Integration Fund and determines its tasks and goals. The Kuratorium is a body with 18 seats, of which three are reserved for migrants and NGOs. The Greens and the Liberals wanted this to be seven.


Outside the EU, in the candidate countries, the issue arises in a slightly different way. Accession to the EU will eventually require the adoption of laws, such as those on electoral rights and non-discriminatory access to membership and formation of political parties, and these laws may run counter to polity-ideas which are still evolving. For example, one of Estonia�s major challenges since its independence from the Soviet Union in the August coup of 1991 has been that of defining the polity, and hence of defining the suffrage. Although the reasons for excluding Russians from the citizenry and hence from the suffrage were understandable in the early years of Estonian independence, the exclusionary arguments in favour have become increasingly hard to sustain both in the face of external political pressure from the OSCE and from the EU, and in the light of greater internal political maturity and experience with democratic practices and the rule of law. [106] Internally, Estonia wished to avoid a �one country, two societies� scenario. Externally, it found itself more pressurised by international norms and organisational pressure than would do more long established liberal states, both in the form of OSCE recommendations and in terms of the pressure to conform both with the acquis communautaire and the �EU mainstream� prior to accession being contemplated. In this sense, there may be a positive synergy between steps taken internally entirely with a view to settling the status of the substantial Russian minority, and steps taken in view of accession which are concerned only with the status of those who will become Estonia�s �second country nationals�, i.e. the other members of the EU at the time when enlargement eventually occurs.


Although Estonia is clearly a very different type of case to the Member States discussed in this Section, there is a baseline similarity between the types of arguments used by political elites and other opinion-formers, involving the construction of the boundaries of the suffrage around constructs of state sovereignty, the demos, and � less frequently � access to limited public goods. In that context, both �national cosmopolitanism� (e.g. in the form of multiculturalism or the admission of the rights of resident minorities) and �transnational cosmopolitanism� (e.g. in the form of some form of putative European identity) can represent a threat, and there may be strong resistance within the polity to redefining its boundaries in an inclusive way. This section has sought to elaborate upon the generally slow pace of development of electoral rights for non-nationals, above and beyond what EU law demands of Member States. Even political parties which would � consistently with other aspects of their political programmes � be expected to support electoral rights for non-nationals, whether in the name of democracy, human rights or better race relations or integration of foreigners find themselves politically unable in certain types of circumstances to support what risks being a politically unpopular proposition. Electoral rights are an area of contestation within domestic politics, but more often that contestation is not directly over the question itself, but is diffused into the domestic politics of immigration and citizenship more generally, or the politics of domestic coalition building and maintenance.


The point in this section has not been to discern unilinear trends in policy-making, or to predict outcomes of political debates at the national level, but to interrogate more closely some of the contestations themselves. The intensity of some of the debates presented here, with rhetorics shifting between defence of the nation and sovereignty and the need to maintain the privileges of citizenship certainly does not reveal that the effect of EU electoral rights has been to render the debate about electoral rights and political participation of non-nationals more generally into a banal and non-contentious issue at national level. [107] On the contrary, in this context the assertion of immigration sovereignty � whether as symbol of autonomy or demonstration of policy independence � seems alive and well. Through the politics of electoral rights, political actors can, however, project their vision of the �polity idea� appropriate to the nation state.

VI        The Area of Freedom, Security and Justice: developing the EU�s wider role in relation to migrants


�The European Union must ensure fair treatment of third country nationals who reside legally on the territory of its Member States. A more vigorous integration policy should aim at granting them rights and obligations comparable to those of EU citizens. It should also enhance non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural life and develop measures against racism and xenophobia�. The legal status of third country nationals should be approximated to that of Member States� nationals. [108]


�Although the importance of voting rights and access to nationality for the integration of third-country nationals who are long-term residents is now generally acknowledged, the EC Treaty provides no specific legal basis for it.� [109]


The contestations raised at national level have resonated within the EU�s own law and policy-making vis-�-vis third country nationals. In the EU, debates on electoral rights for third country nationals have often reflected the wider debate on immigration policy. Here the national mix of political debate on what ought to be done both in terms of planning and regulating immigration of all kinds, as well as determining the appropriate treatment of residents, is supplemented by the crucial question �By whom?�. In addition, the parallelism of the status of migrants whether EU citizens or third country nationals represents a continuous challenge to policy-makers, given the currently exclusive nature of EU citizenship. For example, in the discussions regarding the elaboration of the Fundamental Rights Charter in 2000, a document from the Praesidium asked whether, �where rights are reserved for citizens alone, should there be a general clause to the effect that such rights may be extended to third-country nationals?� [110] In the event, a negative answer was given, as it was also in relation to pressure at the 1996 IGC [111] to use the Treaty of Amsterdam to widen the scope of EU citizenship. [112]


At the present time there are no proposals currently on the table for measures to be adopted at the EU level to require Member States to confer local electoral rights on long-term third country nationals. The furthest which any institution has gone thus far is the European Parliament, which has suggested an amendment to a Commission proposal on long-term resident third country nationals which would encourage the Member States themselves to adopt such measures. This builds upon more �abstract� statements of policy, such as advcoating the extension of electoral rights to third country nationals in its resolution on the 1996 IGC [113] and in a recent resolution on the �Barcelona Euro-med� process. [114]


The Commission�s proposal for a Directive governing the status of long-term resident third country nationals has been one of the flagship measures of the evolving Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. The original proposal excluded electoral rights from the scope of the rights for third country nationals, on the grounds that there is no explicit competence within the Treaty to enact such rights. [115] This suggests a relatively narrow interpretation of Article 63(3) and (4) EC, which provide for the adoption of measures regarding conditions of residence of third country nationals, and is at odds with Norbert Reich�s suggestion to use Article 63 as the basis for developing a �quasi-citizenship� for third country nationals by thickening out the concept of �legal residence� in the Member States. [116]


The measure passed the European Parliament for consultation. The competence argument advanced by the Commission was accepted in the Report on the proposed Directive for the European Parliament�s Committee on Citizens� Freedoms and rights, Justice and Home Affairs, prepared by Sarah Ludford, a British Liberal Democrat MEP. [117] Adopted by a majority of only 19 to 11, the Report proposed for adoption by the European Parliament plenary session a substantial number of amendments to the Commission�s proposal, quite a number of which were clearly motivated by the heightened securitisation agenda following the events of 11 September 2001. Even though the report was prepared with the aid of key migration policy NGOs, [118] in certain respects, the proposed amendments appeared less generous in terms of rights for resident third country nationals, proposing only that their rights should be �similar� to those of EU citizens, rather than �as near as possible� (Article 1). The Committee noted in its justification that

<AMJust>Although the Tampere conclusions provide for an approximation of the legal status of third-country nationals to that of Member State nationals (paragraph 21), harmonisation in the form of equal status would do away with any incentive to seek citizenship of the host Member State, a step which third-country nationals should be encouraged to take with a view to fostering integration.�

In similar vein, several amendments refer to the need for skills in the host nation language(s) needing to be acquired by the resident non-national, to foster integration, although these came not from the Rapporteur, but from the Conservative/Christian Democrat grouping on the Committee. In other key respects, the amendments proposed by the Committee extended the draft Directive, and electoral rights were a crucial heading under which extensions were proposed, albeit through the medium of national law. Before adoption of the Report and a legislative resolution, at plenary on 5 February 2002 the amendments went through a further process of revision. Eventually the Parliament adopted by a large majority, but with the UK Conservative group voting against, a text adding to the list of areas under which third country nationals were to be guaranteed equal treatment by the host Member State a new heading of �participation in community life at local level� (new Article 12(1)(ib) of the draft directive). This presumably refers to institutions of civil society rather than political participation rights, for in the very next paragraph, voting (but not standing) rights are added as a specific example of an area in which Member States may choose to accord equal treatment:

�Member States may extend the benefit of equal treatment to matters not referred to in paragraph 1, such as active participation in political life, including voting rights at local and European level.� (Article 12(2); italics indicate amendment proposed).

The statement of justification in the Report refers to the competence argument, in the following terms:

�Whilst there is no competence under the Treaties to provide for voting or other political rights in a Member State this should not preclude Member State governments using their prerogative to provide such within their national legislation.� </AMJust>

The Rapporteur�s Explanatory Statement elaborates a little further:

�The proposal does not grant voting rights as the Commission considers this is not covered by the legal base. The rapporteur understands that this is a politically sensitive issue for some Member States, although she considers that the grant of voting rights at least at local and European level ought to be encouraged as a factor of responsible integration. She therefore recommends a reference to an option for Member States to grant long term resident third country nationals the right to vote in municipal, national and European elections.�

Voluntarism on the part of the Member States and the recognition of national competence seem to be the order of the day. Even the proponents of the extension of electoral rights to third country nationals themselves appeared to regard this as a merely symbolic statement, one which is unlikely to find its way into the final legislative text and therefore of minimal practical impact. [119] Even so, there seems a distinct contradiction between a statement which explicitly limits the extent to which third country nationals �deserve� equal rights to EU citizens, on the grounds that they should be encouraged to naturalize, and another statement encouraging the Member States to accord local electoral rights on the grounds that this is a successful method of integration of the same group of immigrants. The type of �consensus� approach to policy-making which the European Parliament�s role within the EU policy process, along with its strong Committee system, also has what might be perceived as the disadvantage of allowing the adoption of proposed amendments to the Commission�s draft which are not quite internally consistent. This has the definite effect of blurring the underlying concept of the �polity� which the European Parliament is deploying in its policy-making endeavours. Interestingly, though, the resonances between these debates and those much earlier debates about the internal dimensions of the polity and the demos engaged in the context of direct elections seem weak. The Parliament has moved away from the twin roots of EU electoral rights in grand ideas of democracy and citizenship based on free movement to focus on concerns on balancing the internal and external dimensions of �fair treatment� or justice, and on the appropriate level of assimilation and integration of immigrants. Similarly, the debate on competence, sovereignty and � potentially � subsidiarity have come to the fore.

VII            Conclusion: Demos construction and �polity ideas�

This paper has not focused directly upon the issue of sovereignty, the precise nature of citizenship in the EU context or the normative challenge which alien suffrage raises both for the EU as emerging polity, and for the Member States and candidate states. The premises on which it has proceeded are, however, clear. The language of sovereignty under conditions of Europeanisation, globalisation and regionalisation is a contested discourse, and that is one important reason why there remains no clear answer to the question �what is the EU?� or indeed �what should it do?�. As the paper has shown, much of this uncertainty at the EU level � in the specific context of electoral rights for third country nationals � has been diffused into a debate about competence. At the national level, debates about third country nationals � such as the debates on electoral rights in Belgium and on immigration policy in Germany � so often become mired in the internal politics of coalition-building or preservation, and the balance between different bodies within a legislative assembly.


Ultimately, however, it is impossible to avoid the normative and ethical dimensions of determining the boundaries of the suffrage, however banal much political discourse appears to render it. The link demands to be made between the process of demos construction for a legitimate European Union comprising multiple sites of political authority and the wider normative question of the �polity idea� which the EU needs for self-sustenance, namely the �normative ideas about a legitimate political order�. [120]


For a complex multi-level polity with constitutional pretensions such as the EU problems may arise if just two clear cut ethical ideas dominate the debate. That is, if the position of resident non-nationals is presented as a straight contest between the logic of citizenship grounded in nation state incorporation, where naturalization is the legal formalist key to access and the logic of universal personhood, which is global and is not connected to the specific European context. Self-evidently, with the concept of Union citizenship including electoral rights the EU has gone beyond a form of narrow national incorporation. However, equally obviously, the gaps in its policies on third country nationals hitherto and the apparent willingness to defer to national sovereignty over questions such as electoral rights make it clear that the project is not one of cosmopolitan inclusion. On the contrary one which incorporates a degree of exclusion in turn still based on the formal badge of nation state membership. But nation state membership within the Euro-polity is not a thick enough conception of membership in the long term either to sustain an evolutionary concept of citizenship of the Union grounded in the EU�s own constitutional edifice nor an ethically sustainable basis for EU �fair� treatment of third country nationals, given the sharp variations between different national laws and policies on issues such as access to citizenhip and dual nationality. It does not recognise that Union citizenship effectively undermines the binary divide of national and international and raises the question of what type of polity-idea underscores the Euro-polity itself.


In the introduction to this paper, a link was drawn between the types of questions triggered by the task of determining the boundaries of the suffrage and the highly topical issue of the treatment of non-nationals after 11 September 2001. Clearly, here is not the place to extemporise in full about these highly contested questions. It suffices to note how quickly things can change. Earlier in 2001, the challenge appeared to have been expressed quite clearly by Rogers Smith:

��normatively, I too would like to see a complexly federated world of �weak� political peoples in which individuals could freely choose to belong to many roughly equal and only �semi-sovereign� communities at once. [But] � the political dynamics of people-building make the achievement of such arrangements on an enduring basis precarious. Those of us with normative reservations about absolutist senses of allegiance thus face major challenges in considering how we can forge stable forms of political membership that eschew them�. [121]

Such words seemed quickly outdated as the state as site of authority has experienced a powerful resurgence. Yet the evidence from the contestation of electoral rights suggests that matters should perhaps never have been seen in such terms in the first place. The message of this paper, on the contrary, concerns the need to track carefully the ongoing contestation of polity ideas, including ideas about sovereignty, legitimacy and power, in relation to the boundaries of the suffrage, without presuming either the eventual disappearance of the sovereign nation state, or the inevitable failure of the supranational project and the cosmopolitan ideals which, in part, it embodies.



[1]               H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York, Harcourt Brace, 1973) at 278.

[2]               As Linda Bosniak points out, citizenship is a classic example of an essentially contested concept in the WB Gallie/William Connolly sense of the term: L. Bosniak, �Denationalizing Citizenship� in T.A. Aleinikoff and D. Klusmeyer (eds.), Citizenship Today: Global Perspectives and Practices (Washington, DC, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2001).

[3]               Helpful summary statistics on migration are compiled and published by the University of Konstanz Center for International and European Law on Immigration and Asylum:

[4]               For a review of different policies, see J. Apap, Shaping Europe�s Migration Policy. New Regimes for the Employment of third country Nationals: A Comparison of Strategies in Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK, CEPS Working Document No. 179, December 2001.

[5]               For statistical purposes in relation to migration, the EEA states of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are generally assimilated to the EU-15.

[6]                 Migration News, Vol. 9, No. 3, March 2002 (

[7]               A.M Williams, �New Forms of International Migration: In Search of Which Europe?� in H. Wallace (ed.), Interlocking Dimensions of European Integration (London, Palgrave, 2001), at 103-104.

[8]               M. Walzer, Spheres of Justice. A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (New York, Basic Books, 1983); discussed in L. Bosniak, �Membership, Equality and the Difference that Alienage Makes�, (1994) 69 New York University Law Review 1149 and L. Bosniak, �Universal Citizenship and the Problem of Alienage�, (2000) 94 Northwestern University Law Review 963.

[9]               See, for the debate: C. Joppke, Immigration and the Nation State: The United States, Germany, and Great Britain (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999); C. Joppke, �The Legal-Domestic Sources of Immigrant Rights. The United States, Germany, and the European Union�, (2001) 34 Comparative Political Studies 339; R. Hansen, �Migration, citizenship and race in Europe: Between incorporation and exclusion�, (1999) 35 European Journal of Political Research 415; S. Sassen, �The de facto Transnationalizing of Immigration Policy� in C. Joppke (ed.), Challenges to the nation-state: Immigration in Western Europe and the United States (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998); Y. Soysal, Limits of Citizenship: Migrants and Postnational Membership in Europe (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1994).

[10]             See for example N. MacCormick, Questioning Sovereignty, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999; N. Walker, �Sovereignty and Differentiated Integration in the European Union�, in Z. Ba?kowski and A. Scott (eds.), The European Union and its Order Blackwell, Oxford, 2000; D. Kostakopoulou, �Floating Sovereignty: A Pathology or a Necessary Means of State Evolution?�, (2002) 22 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 135.

[11]             On international migration and security in relation to 11 September 2001 see T. Faist, � �Extension du domaine de la lutte�: International Migration and Security before and after 11 September 2001�, (2002) International Migration Review forthcoming (Spring).

[12]             For an appeal to justice and fairness in relation to US policies, see R. Dworkin, �The Threat to Patriotism�, The New York Review of Books, 28 February 2002.

[13]             I am grateful to Neil Walker for bringing out this point.

[14]             The New Oxford Dictionary of English  (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1998).

[15]             Article 21(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

[16]             Wider struggles over the extension of the suffrage fall outwith the scope of this research. The symbolic and practical importance of the scope of the suffrage is reflected in measures as diverse as Article 21(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of Independence (1776) or the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789), especially in so far as the latter focus upon popular sovereignty.

[17]                 Nottebohm Case (Liechtenstein v. Guatemala) 1995 ICJ 4 (judgment of 6 April 1955).

[18]             R. Baub�ck, �Changing the Boundaries of Citizenship. The inclusion of immigrants in democratic polities� in R. Baub�ck (ed.), From Aliens to Citizens. Redefining the status of immigrants in Europe (Avebury/European Centre Vienna, Aldershot, etc., 1994) at p207.

[19]             R. Hansen and P. Weil (eds.), Towards a European Nationality. Citizenship, Immigration and Nationality Law in the EU (London, Palgrave, 2001); P.J. Spiro, �Dual Nationality and the Meaning of Citizenship�, (1997) 46 Emory Law Journal 1411; R. Koslowski, �Demographic Boundary Maintenance in World Politics: Of International Norms on Dual Nationality� in M. Albert, D. Jacobson and Y. Lapid (eds.), Identities, Borders, Orders: Rethinking International Relations Theory (Minneapolis/London, University of Minnesota Press, 2001).

[20]             N.M.J. Pickus (ed.), Becoming American. America Becoming, Final Report, Duke University Workshop on Citizenship and Immigration, 1997:


[21]                 Baub�ck, above n.18 .

[22]             C. Joppke, Immigration and the Nation States. The United States, Germany, and Great Britain (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999), at 6.

[23]             Articles 17 and 18 EC, as interpreted by the Court of Justice in Case C-85/96 Mart�nez Sala [1998] ECR I-2691 and  Case C-184/99 Grzelczyk v. Centre public d�aide sociale d�Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, judgment of 20 September 2001.

[24]             See generally J. Shaw, �The Interpretation of European Union Citizenship�, 61 Modern Law Review 317.

[25]             Second Presidential Conference of the Regions with Legislative Power, Resolution: Towards The Reinforced Role Of The Regions With Legislative Power Within The European Union, Li�ge, 15 November 2001.

[26]             Germany chose a �regional� politician as one of its two parliamentary representatives, the Prime Minister of Baden-W�rttemburg, Erwin Teufel, who is also a member of the Bundesrat.

[27]             The most controversial example of a law enacted by a kin-state according preferential treatment to co-ethnics abroad is the Hungarian status law. Such laws can be seen as an attempt to exercise �develop� sovereignty externally, even if they are presented and justified in �postmodern� terms of fuzzy statehood and fuzzy citizenship. The Status law is the mirror image scenario of the �fair treatment� of resident non-nationals, namely the question of the treatment of co-ethnics abroad and whether the �home� state can legitimately claim jurisdiction to accord them rights other than directly in respect of their membership link (i.e. expatriate voting rights). See B. Fowler, �Fuzzy citizenship, nationalising political space: A framework for interpreting the Hungarian �status law� as a new form of kin-state policy in Central and Eastern Europe�, One Europe or Several Working Paper 40/02 (

[28]             P. Oliver, �Electoral Rights under Article 8B of the Treaty of Rome�, (1996) 33 Common Market Law Review 473.

[29]             The Commission has not reported extensively on the Local Elections Directive: see Second Commission Report on Citizenship of the Union, COM (97) 230 (available at Subsequent reports have been produced on the implementation of the European Parliamentary voting rights: COM(97) 731 (January 1998) and COM(2000) 843 (December 2000).

[30]                 Reference to progress on the implementation of the electoral rights as part of the acquis can be found in the Commission�s regular reports on progress towards accession for each of the states in question. See for 2000:

[31]             The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, solemnly proclaimed by the Presidents of the Council of Ministers, the European Commission and the European Parliament, at the European Council Meeting in Nice, December 2000, OJ 2000 C364/1.

[32]             See M. M�ndez Lago, �The Political Rights of Immigrants: The Case of EU Nationals in the 1999 Spanish Local Elections�, Paper presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions, Workshop No. 14, Political participation of immigrants and their descendants in Post-War Western Europe, Turin, 22-27 March 2002; J. Shaw and S. Day, �Implementing Union Citizenship: The Case of Alien Suffrage and the European Union�, EURCIT Workshop on �The Constitution of European Democracy�, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, September 29-October 1 2000.

[33]             Signed on November 5 1992; European Treaty Series, no. 144;

[34]             Italy�s partial ratification includes a declaration opting out of the third stage.

[35]             The provisions of the ECHR do not provide clear cut protection for the political rights of aliens. In Piermont v. France (27 April 1995, 314 ECHR (series A), the Court of Human Rights adopted its first decision on Article 16, which provides that �Nothing in Articles 10, 11 and 14 shall be regarded as preventing the High Contracting Parties from imposing restrictions on the political activity of aliens.� It held that in certain circumstances it does not apply to citizens of the European Union when on the territory of other Member States � but this does not protect third country nationals: J. Kokott and B. Rudolf, �Commentary on Piermont v France�, (1996) 90 American Journal of International Law 456. See also Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 which requires the holding of free and fair elections in the contracting states.

[36]                 Recommendation 1500 (2001), 26 January 2001.

[37]              H.U.J. d�Oliveira, �European Citizenship: Its Meaning, Its Potential� in R. Dehousse (ed.), Europe after Maastricht: An Ever Closer Union?, Munich, Law Books in Europe, 1994 at 142-143.

[38]             J.P. Gardner (ed.), Citizenship: The White Paper (London, Institute for Citizenship Studies/The British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 1997), Hallmark 3: Right to Vote at 42.

[39]             OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Lund Recommendations: Effective Participation of National Minorities in Public Life (September 1999) (

�Effective participation of national minorities in public life is an essential component of a peaceful and democratic society� (1) These Recommendations aim to facilitate the inclusion of minorities within the State and enable minorities to maintain their own identity and characteristics, thereby promoting the good governance and integrity of the State. (2) These Recommendations build upon fundamental principles and rules of international law, such as respect for human dignity, equal rights, and non-discrimination, as they affect the rights of  national minorities to participate in public life and to enjoy other political rights. (3) States shall guarantee the right of persons belonging to national minorities to take part in the conduct of public affairs, including the rights to vote and stand for office without discrimination.�

[40]             See CBSS Commissioner, Rights of Non-citizens residing legally in the Member States of the CBSS. Voting Rights and the Right to Stand for Public Office, Survey Part I, February 1996 and CBSS Commissioner, Annual Report 2001-2002, presented March 2002 (

[41]             See generally Fowler, above n.27 . Council of Europe, Report on the Preferential Treatment of National Minorities by their Kin-State, adopted by the Venice Commission at its 48th Plenary Meeting, Venice, October 19-20 2001 (Document CDL-INF (2001) 19).

[42]             See below at nn.113 and 114 .

[43]             Proposal for a Council Directive concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents, COM(2001) 127, 13 March 2001.

[44]             See further below at n.115 et seq.

[45]             The case of devolution and Northern Ireland is different. The Northern Ireland Act does recognise the possibility of eventual secession, by accepting that the future of Northern Ireland is to be decided by its own people and that secession and joining into a united Ireland could be envisaged if decided upon by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland (s. 1(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998).

[46]             S. 3(1) of the Local Government Elections Regulations 1995 (SI 1995, no. 1948) provides the basic amendments to the local electorate to incorporate the requirements of EU law; see also s. 17 of the Great London Authority Act 1999; s. 11 of the Scotland Act; s. 10 of Schedule 1, Government of Wales Act 1998; s. 2(2) of the Northern Ireland (Elections) Act 1998, which extends electoral rights to EU nationals, even though it is a rather different case of devolution.

[47]             E.g. ss. 1(2) and 2(2) of the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Act 1997.

[48]             Articles 39(1) and 40 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, OJ 2000 C364/1.

[49]             A. Connolly, �Alien suffrage in the European Union and direct elections to the European Parliament 1951-1980�, CIVIC Working Paper 2/2001. It is important to acknowledge my considerable debt to the PhD research conducted by Anthea Connolly on Alien Suffrage in the EU (1999-2002), which has examined in detail the parliamentary and other institutional debates about electoral rights and citizenship in the EU.

[50]             H.U.J. d�Oliveira, above n.37 at 142.

[51]             See W. B�hning, The Migration of Workers in the United Kingdom and the European Community (London, OUP, 1972) cited in B. Wilkinson, �Towards European Citizenship? Nationality, Discrimination and Free Movement of Workers in the European Union�, (1995) 1 European Public Law 417 at 418; R. Plender, �An Incipient Form of European Citizenship�, in F. Jacobs (ed.), European Law and the Individual (Dordrecht, North Holland, 1976); A. Evans, �European Citizenship: A Novel Concept in EEC Law�, (1984) American Journal of Comparative Law 679. G. Ress, �Free Movement of persons, services and capital� in Commission of the European Communities (ed.), Thirty years of Community law (Luxembourg, OOPEC, 1981), at 302 has a section entitled �Are we on the way towards creating European citizenship?�.

[52]             See Commission Report to the European Parliament on Voting Rights in local elections for Community nationals, COM(86) 487, also published as Bull-EC Supp. 7/86; Commission proposal for a Council Directive on Voting Rights for Community Nationals in Local Elections in their Member State of Resident, COM(88) 371; amended proposal COM (89) 524.

[53]             J. Lewis, �Is the �Hard Bargaining� Image of the Council Misleading? The Committee of Permanent Representatives and the Local Elections Directive�, (1998) 36 Journal of Common Market Studies 479. For recent coverage of this institution, which is still regarded as rather mysterious, see F. Guerrera and D. Dombey, �Overlooked powers behind Europe�s throne�, Financial Times, 31 March 2002.

[54]             This can also be discerned from a Council Press release of 1990 cited by Lewis, above n.53 at p494: when the foreign ministers discussed this dossier in June 1990 they noted �political, constitutional and legal problems in connection with this porposal which prevent certain Member States from taking up a final position�.

[55]             Report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens� Rights and the opinions of the Committee on Institutional Affairs and the Committee on Regional Policy A4-0011/1994.  Proposal for a Council Directive laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections by citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals (COM(94) 38; OJ 1994 C105/8).

[56]             Own initiative opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the proposal for a Council Directive laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals. (94/C 393/29) OJ 1994 C 393/186.

[57]             Lewis, above n.53 at p493.

[58]             In a 1999 Report, the Commission concluded that the derogation could still validly apply: COM(1999) 597.

[59]             For details of many of the national implementing measures, see the information provided on the Commission�s Justice and Home Affairs Website:

[60]             This has not been assisted by the fact that the dossier moved around 2000 from the internal market Directorate General to the DG for Justice and Home Affairs, although materials on voting rights can be found still on the websites of both DGs.

[61]             Case C-323/97 Commission v. Belgium [1998] ECR I-4281.

[62]             On non-national participation in the October 2000 elections (including the participation of nationals of non-Belgian origin), see D. Jacobs, M. Martiniello and A. Rea, �Changing patterns of political participation of immigrants in the Brussels Capital Region. The October 2000 elections�, Paper presented to the Sixth International Metropolis Conference, Workshop No. 14 on the Political Participation of Migrants, Rotterdam, 27 November 2001.

[63]             Decision of the Austrian Constitutional Court of 12 December 1997, B3113/96, B3760/96.

[64]                 Interview with a representative of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, Vienna, June 2000.

[65]             Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Louis Michel on why he intervened to prevent a vote in the Belgian Senate on a vote to institute local electoral rights for third country nationals expected to take place on 12 March 2002, quoted in Le Soir en Ligne, 20 February 2002 (

[66]             See generally S. Day and J. Shaw, �European Union Electoral Rights and the Political Participation of Migrants in Host Polities�, (2002) International Journal of Population Geography.

[67]             See the types of arguments put forward by activist groups such as the Alliance for Residency-Based European Citizenship and the campaign for Universal Franchise:

[68]                 Baub�ck, above n.18 .

[69]             H. Lardy, Citizenship and the Right to Vote, (1997) 17 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 75 at pp98-99. See also H. Lardy, �The Political rights of Union Citizenship�, (1997) 2 European Public Law 611.

[70]             Z. Layton-Henry, �Citizenship and Migrant Workers in Western Europe� in U. Vogel and M. Moran (eds.), The Frontiers of Citizenship (London, Macmillan, 1991) at 120.

[71]             On the reality for foreigners in the GDR, see S. Geyer, �Ausl�nder in the DDR. Frischfleisch f�r den Sozialismus�, Der Spiegel, 5 May 2001.

[72]             See Home Affairs Selection Committee, Fourth Report, Session 1997-1998, Electoral Law and Administration, para. 117 et seq.

[73]             Debate on the Representation of the People Act 2000 extending the franchise to certain categories of previously excluded persons such as the homeless, those remanded in custody and not yet convicted, and patients resident in mental hospitals who are not detained offenders, Hansard, House of Commons, 15 December 1999, Douglas Hogg MP, Col 296. See H. Lardy, �Democracy by Default: The Representation of the People Act 2000�, (2001) 62 Modern Law Review 63.

[74]             George Howarth, MP, Column 301.

[75]             See Hansard, House of Commons, 15 December 1999, Cols 293-305 for the debate. Harry Barnes, MP at Columns 303-304.

[76]             Robert MacLennan MP, Column 295.

[77]             Douglas Hogg MP, Column 296.

[78]             D. Jacobs, �Discourse, politics and policy: the Dutch parliamentary debate about voting rights for foreign residents�, (1998) 32 International Migration Review 350; D. Jacobs, �The debate over enfranchisement of foreign residents in Belgium�, (1999) 25 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 649; J. Rath, �Voting Rights� in Z. Layton-Henry (ed.), The Political Rights of Migrant Workers in Western Europe (Sage, London, 1990).

[79]             See n.65 above. Further press commentary is collected at online at

[80]             M. Vandemeulebroucke, �Le vote des �trangers est mis au frigo. La commission de l�Int�rieur du S�nat rejette le projet par neuf voix contre six�, Le Soir en Ligne, March 12 2002.

[81]             Quoted in �No Belgium votes for non-EU residents�, BBC World, 28 March 2002 (

[82]                 Judgments of the Court of 31 October 1990, BVerfGE 83, 37 II.

[83]             See the summary and analyses in R. Rubio-Mar�n, Immigration as a Democratic Challenge: Citizenship and Inclusion in Germany and the United States (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000), Ch. 8. See also G.L. Neuman, ��We are the People�: Alien Suffrage in German and American Perspective�, (1992) 13 Michigan Journal of International Law 259 and O. B�aud, �Le droit de vote des �trangers: l�apport de la jurisprudence constitutionnelle allemande � une th�orie du droit de suffrage�, (1992) Revue fran�aise de Droit administratif 409.

[84]             Gesetz zur Reform des Staatsangeh�rigkeitsrechts (StARG) of 15 July 1999 (BGBl. I, p1618). On this see generally S. Green, �Beyond Ethnoculturalism? German Citizenship in the New Millenium�, (2000) 9 German Politics 105 and S. Green, �Citizenship Policy in Germany: The Case of Ethnicity over Residence� in Hansen and Weil, above n.19 .

[85]             SPD-Green Coalition Agreement, Chapter IX(7), available from the SPD homepage ( (italics added).

[86]                 Interview with Martin Hantke, advisor to Dr. Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, MEP, Berlin, May 2000.

[87]                 Interview with Peter Hamon (Sozialdemokratische Gemeinschaft f�r Kommunalpolitik in der Bundesrepublik), Berlin, May 2000.

[88]                 Interview with Malti Tanja, Office of Claudia Roth, MdB, Berlin, May 2000.

[89]                 Interview with Cem Ozdemir, MdB, Berlin, May 2000.

[90]                 Interview with Cem Ozdemir, MdB, Berlin, May 2000.

[91]                 Interview with CDU representative, May 2000. See also the example of the Junge Union, Main-Kinzig, a conservative youth organisation, which explicitly argues against local election voting rights for third country nationals: �the right to vote is the foremost (vornehmste) right of the citizen� (

[92]                 Interview with CDU representative, Berlin, May 2000.

[93]                 Migration News, Vol. 9, No. 2, February 2002 (

[94]                 Williamson, �Schr�der welcomes radical reform of immigration�, Financial Times, 5 July 2001.

[95]                 Migration News, Vol. 9, No. 3, April 2002 (

[96]             D. Kommers, �Constitutional Politics in Germany�, (2002) 3 German Law Journal no. 4 (

[97]                 Migration News, Vol. 9, No. 1, January 2002 (

[98]                 �Germans are �xenophobes� says Schmidt�, BBC World, 29 March 2002 (

[99]             John Gudenus, FP� Deputy, quoted in �Head to Head: Is Haider a threat?�, BBC News, February 29 1990.

[100]            See Declaration by the new Austrian Government, Responsibility for Austria � A Future in the Heart of Europe, Vienna, 3 February 2000 (

[101]            R. Baub�ck and Dilek �inar, �Nationality Law and Naturalisation in Austria� in Hansen and Weil, above n.19 at 258.

[102]                 Interview with Dr. Peter Mak, Ministerialrat, Austrian Ministry of the Interior, Vienna, June 2000.

[103]            Baub�ck and �inar, above n.101 at 267.

[104]                 Interview with Robert Leingruber, International Secretary of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, Vienna, June 2000.

[105]            Franz Jerabek, Office of the Fund for Integration and assistant to SP� City Councillor and Member of the City Government, Renate Brauner, Vienna, June 2000. Renate Brauner, who continues to push the issue of electoral rights, is very much in a minority in Viennese politics.

[106]            S. Day, �Estonia � constructing a political community: dealing with issues of inclusion and exclusion�, unpublished ms, August 2001.

[107]            C. Wihtol de Wenden, �Les �lections locales d��trangers dans les pays europ�ens�, in B. Delemotte and J. Chevallier (eds.), �tranger et Citoyen. Les immigr�s et la d�mocratie locale (Licorne/L�Harmattan, Amiens/Paris, 1996) at 30.

[108]                 European Council Conclusions, Tampere, 19/20 October 1999, points 18 and 21.

[109]            Proposal for a Council Directive concerning the status third-country nationals who are long-term residents, COM(2001) 127, para. 5.5 of the Explanatory Memorandum; OJ 2001 C 240E/79.

[110]            Charte 4170/00, �Proposed articles on the rights of citizens (Article A to J)�, 20 March 2000.

[111]            See European Union Migrants� Forum, Proposals for the Revision of the Treaty on European Union at the Intergovernmental Conference of 1996 and Churches� Commission for Migrants in Europe, Third Country Nationals in the European Union: The Case for Equal Treatment, available at  and respectively)

[112]            For the arguments on the extension of Union citizenship to third country nationals see, for example, D. Kostakopoulou, Citizenship, Identity and Immigration in the European Union: Between Past and Future (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2001) and A. F�llesdal, �Third Country Nationals as European Citizens: the case defended� in D. Smith and S. Wright (eds.), Whose Europe? The turn towards democracy (Oxford, Blackwells, 1999). F�llesdal�s argument, unlike Kostakopoulou�s, necessitates national policies of allowing easy access to naturalisation by third country nationals. See also H. Staples, The Legal Status of Third Country Nationals Resident in the European Union (The Hague/London, Kluwer, 1999) at pp335-355. Some writers suggest the imposition of criteria in additon to stable residence, such as employment or other economic activity, language proficiency, �attachment to the Union� and even the consent of the third country itself, upon whose nationals EU citizenship would be conferred: D. O�Keeffe, �Union Citizenship� in D. O�Keeffe and P. Twomey (eds.), Legal Issues of the Maastricht Treaty (Chichester, Wiley, 1994).

[113]                 European Parliament Resolution on the convening of the Intergovernmental Conference and evaluation of the work of the Reflection Group, 13 March 1996, para. 4.16.

[114]                 European Parliament Resolution on the Commission Communcation to prepare the fourth meeting of Euro-Mediterranean foreign ministers �reinvigorating the Barcelona Process�, 1 February 2001, para. 49. It was voted in at plenary by a narrow majority (235 votes to 222, with 56 abstentions), on a proposal from the far-left GEU/NGL group.

[115]            Proposal for a Council Directive concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents, COM(2001) 127, 13 March 2001.

[116]            N. Reich, �Union Citizenship � Metaphor or Source of Rights?�, (2001) 7 European Law Journal 4 at pp18-19.

[117]            Report on the proposal for a Council Directive concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents, A5-0436/2001, 30 November 2001.

[118]            The Migration Policy Group, the Welfare Council for Immigrants, the European Network Against Racism and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association.

[119]                 Interview with Julia Bateman, European Parliamentary research assistant to Baroness Sarah Ludford, MEP, 21 February 2002. I am very grateful to Anthea Connolly for sharing this interview data with me.

[120]            See the use and definition of this term by M. Jachtenfuchs, T. Diez and S. Jung, �Which Europe? Conflicting Models of a Legitimate European Political Order�, (1998) 4 European Journal of International Relations 409 at 409.

[121]            R. Smith, �Citizenship and the Politics of People-Building�, (2001) 5 Citizenship Studies 73 at 74.