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Spanish Diaspora’s Turnout and Party Preferences: Recent Patterns and Challenges of Transnational Political Engagement

Migration
Political Parties
Voting
Southern Europe
Carles Pamies
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC
Daniela Vintila
Université de Liège
Daniela Vintila
Université de Liège
Carles Pamies
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC
Marta Parades
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC

Abstract

Over the past decades, the topic of diaspora’s engagement in home country elections has gained significant salience. This is mostly due to recent policies of enfranchisement of non-resident nationals and the strong electoral potential that external voters sometimes have in homeland elections. Spain stands out as one of the European countries that counts with a long and diverse emigration trajectory. Around 2.6 million Spaniards currently reside abroad, most of them in the Americas and Europe. The legislative framework regulating Spanish elections has experienced several reforms since 1985. In 2011, the implementation of the so-called “voto rogado” (begged vote) significantly changed the voting procedure from abroad, leading to the rise in abstention levels of external voters from 68% in 2008 to 95% in 2011. Diaspora movements such as Marea Granate have rapidly reacted by drawing attention on the bureaucratic barriers that impede casting the ballot from abroad. Despite controversies around the issue, the topic of Spanish diaspora’s electoral engagement has received limited scholarly attention. This paper aims to fill this gap. To do so, we first conduct a longitudinal analysis of their turnout levels and highlight how participation from abroad is influenced not only by existing voting modalities, but also Spanish emigrants’ characteristics. Second, we examine their party preferences and compare them with those of resident voters to identify potential alignment patterns. Third, we explore the strategies of Spanish parties to attract the diaspora vote, by highlighting the special links that certain parties develop with specific communities of external voters.