European Ruling Parties’ Electoral Strategies and Overseas Enfranchisement Policies

Emigrants’ ideologies and partisan attitudes may diverge from other voters’: overseas voters are ideologically self‐selected, receive distinctive information about campaigns and have experiences abroad that are likely to shape their political views. Parties, anticipating these emigrant attitudes, can manipulate overseas voting availability to give the vote primarily to their own supporters. Alternatively, parties may expect newly enfranchised voters to provide electoral support in gratitude for the right to vote. To distinguish these separate processes, the authors of this article undertake a case study of Turkey to trace a ruling party’s strategic expectations as it makes overseas‐enfranchisement decisions. To see how generalisable these results are, the author further extend the study to a statistical analysis of differences in vote choice between voters at home and abroad across all 23 European countries that report overseas votes separately, using an original dataset encompassing 121 elections. Both the case study and the statistical analysis suggest that emigrant‐enfranchising parties tend to garner overseas voters’ support in a lasting way. This suggests that overseas enfranchisement most often appears to involve incumbent parties (correctly) expecting long‐term ideological compatibility with their overseas nationals, not simply exchanging the franchise for short‐term, transactional support.

Anca Turcu and Robert Urbatsch, European Ruling Parties’ Electoral Strategies and Overseas Enfranchisement Policies, European Journal of Political Research, 2019.