Iseult Honohan

University College Dublin

 

Abstract: Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe not to offer some form of suffrage to its citizens who live abroad permanently. In contrast, it has been a front-runner in the trend towards providing more liberal voting regimes for resident non-citizens, as since 1963 it has allowed all resident for the previous six months to vote and stand in local elections. In this paper I consider the normative case for and against external voting, the current comparative context of its increasing provision among European countries, and the range of ways in which voting rights abroad combine with the extensibility of citizenship by descent abroad. Addressing the Irish case, I argue that there is no basis for a general right to vote for external citizens, but that, nonetheless, persisting connections and the rate of return migration give some reason to grant votes to first generation emigrants, if differently weighted from those of resident citizens.