Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Reject, Reject, Reject...Passed! Explaining a Latecomer of Emigrant Enfranchisement

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Abstract:  Despite the extensive spread of external voting across the world, exceptions remain as some countries have not passed such regulations (e.g., Uruguay) or have passed them but lag implementation (e.g., Nicaragua). Others still took a long time to join the trend, possibly presenting a pushback to the commonly accepted notion of norm diffusion to explain migrant enfranchisement. We examine a latecomer by asking why Chile took so long to enfranchise emigrants. Classified as a liberal democracy with a century of legal history of foreign-resident voting, it repeatedly rejected proposed bills on external voting since 1971. Chile enacted external voting only in 2014, regulated it in 2016, and applied it in 2017. Through legal historical content analysis, we identify which political actors proposed the bills, when, and why each failed. Left and right-leaning actors gave normative, legal, and procedural reasons that resulted in rejection and stagnation at various institutional stages. This latecomer’s constitutional tradition, strongly focused on territory and territorial links, potentially sheds light on dozens of other country cases of late adoption of the external franchise.

Keywords:  Chile; democratic norms; emigrant enfranchisement; external voting; political regimes


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© Victoria Finn, Juan Pablo Ramaciotti. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.