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Abstract

Today the inclusion of non-citizens in the electorate is an increasingly common phenomenon. Yet, we know relatively little about under what conditions some states extend such voting rights to non-citizens earlier than others. In this paper, we investigate the timing of local enfranchisement policies for non-citizens in 28 democracies from 1980 to 2010 using event-history analysis. Adding to the conditions studied in earlier work, we examine the extent to which demographic composition, immigration policy regimes, and political partisanship relate to the timing of non-citizen suffrage. We find that higher shares of immigrant residents delay whereas EU membership and economic openness advance the timing of voting rights for non-citizens. At all demographic heterogeneity conditions, less permissive immigration regimes have been able to enfranchise non-citizens earlier. The findings suggest that, over time, having more left-wing parties in the government accelerates the timing of enfranchisement, while right-wing parties contribute to delays. The article brings forward new data and an original explanatory framework emphasising relevance of partisanship and immigration policy at different demographic contexts. Our analysis sheds light on the idiosyncratic state practices in the timing of enfranchisement reforms adding to the debates in migration and citizenship studies and the broader comparative politics field.

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