Project «Power to the foreign people? What drives the enfranchisement of non-citizens in Switzerland»

Following the idea of «no taxation without representation» universal suffrage is the key instrument for the legitimacy of democratic systems. Nowadays, in Western Europe, as well as in most other parts of the world, universal suffrage for men and women is a matter of course. In contrast, suffrage is still tied to conventional models of citizenship. As a consequence, migrants are by far the largest group without franchise. In 2017, 24 percent of the Swiss resident population were non-citizens and hence excluded from voting rights. Looking at the share of non-residents in specific age groups makes the case even more impressive. Among Swiss residents aged 30 to 35 the share of disenfranchised non-citizens is about 40 percent. Thus, for some groups, the share of taxpayers without political rights is comparable to the situation before the enfranchisement of women. This paper aims to uncover conditions under which natives are willing to grant non-citizens the right to vote. In particular this paper focuses on the role of exposure to non-citizens and the strength of direct democracy.

Duration of project
01.02.2018 – 01.12.2019


  • Dr. Marco Portmann, Agroscope


  • Swiss Distance University
  • University of Fribourg
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