Non-universal suffrage

by Lorenzo Piccoli


This is the link to the article I published together with Jean-Thomas and Sam on European Political Science. You can read it for free thanks to the funding we have received from GLOBALCIT and the Global Governance Programme to make it open access.

In the article, we present ELECLAW, a new set of indicators that captures the subtle and variegated legal landscape of persisting electoral rights restrictions.

Manifesto.jpg

If I could chose an image for this piece it would be the 1913 feminist manifesto pictured above. The electoral franchise has become more universal as restrictions based on criteria such as sex or property have been lifted throughout the process of democratisation. Yet, a broad range of exclusions has persisted to this date, making the suffrage non-universal, even in established democracies. The exclusion of prisoners or persons with a mental disability, for instance, remains a divisive issue in most contemporary democracies. Another particularly widespread and controversial form of disenfranchisement stems from international migration, as a result of which non-naturalised immigrants are often excluded from elections held in their country of residence and, to a lesser degree, in their country of citizenship. In democratically governed states, regions, and cities, these infringements to the sacrosanct principle of universal suffrage have sparked debates about the very nature of the political community and the essential qualities of citizenship, resulting in frequent changes in the electoral law. Ultimately, a broad range of more or less severe restrictions has persisted to this date, making suffrage non-universal, even in established democracies.