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Diaspora Mobilization and Homeland Politics

Participation
Policy
VIRTUAL006
Johanna Peltoniemi
University of Helsinki
Sebastián Umpierrez de Reguero
European University Institute

Abstract

In a context of accelerated intensification of migration outflows worldwide, states have become increasingly concerned with the political incorporation of non-resident nationals in the demos (Collyer 2014; Arrighi & Bauböck, 2017). This, in turn, has triggered scholars’ interest in closely examining emigrant enfranchisement processes, the determinants and effects of external voting rights, and the diversification of emigrants’ non-electoral modes of participation (Rhodes & Harutyunyan, 2010; Lafleur, 2013; Gamlen, 2015; Vintila & Martiniello, 2020). Yet, there is a lack of comprehensive dialogue between migration studies and political participation accounts on this topic. Such scholarly dialogue is much needed to inform further research on the causal mechanisms of diaspora mobilization in the homeland arena; and to better assess, in comparative perspective, how, when and why non-resident populations connect with homeland politics beyond elections. To the best of our knowledge, there is no systematic analysis on the interaction between demand-side (i.e. overseas voters’ attitudes and preferences toward home-country elections) and supply-side factors (i.e. the relation of homeland authorities, diaspora-based party organizations, civic associations with overseas voters). By combining migration studies and political participation, this interaction becomes essential to draw inferences on the different levels of impact on decision-making processes at home, and the capacity to make homeland governments accountable and politicians responsive. Existing literature has taken three diverse pathways that rarely connect with each other. First, several contributions have investigated the enactment, regulation and implementation (e.g. Pallister, 2019; Palop-García & Pedroza, 2019; Turcu & Urbatsch, 2020), alongside policy reversals (e.g., Brand, 2006; Wellman, 2015), of emigrant enfranchisement. Second, the political, institutional, and socio-economic determinants and consequences of political engagement from abroad have emerged as a burgeoning research agenda in both migration studies and empirical political science research. Drawing on the seminal research of voter turnout (e.g., Powell, 1986; Jackman, 1987; Verba et al., 1995), scholars have paid close attention to explaining emigrant voters’ turnout, either at an aggregate (e.g., Belchior et al., 2018; Burgess & Tyburski, 2020; Ciornei & Østergaard-Nielsen, 2020) or individual level (e.g., Chaudhary, 2018; Peltoniemi, 2018; McCann et al., 2019; Finn, 2020). Third, the increasing multiplicity of (in)formal channels of socio-political activism across borders—often incentivised by processes of emulation and diffusion in global politics—has stimulated research on transnational social movements (Tarrow, 2005), political parties abroad (Paarlberg, 2017; Kernalegenn & Van Haute, 2020) and migrant civic associations (Lafleur, 2013).
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