Over the last fifty years, eighteen regional assemblies in Europe have debated the extension of voting rights to foreign residents. Yet only Scotland and the Swiss cantons of Neuchâtel and Jura have adopted such legislation. What explains this variation? Through a comparison of debates that have taken place in Italy and Switzerland, I show that multilevel governance expands access to policymaking, but also multiplies veto points in the system. As a result, attempts by regional assemblies to directly give voting rights to foreign residents are generally doomed to fail. At the same time, multilevel governance can be used as a strategy to indirectly shape the political inclusion of different groups. Even if they are unsuccessful in giving the right to vote to foreign residents, these discussions can lead to broader reforms of political rights at the national level.
Lorenzo Piccoli, Multilevel strategies of political inclusion: The contestation of voting rights for foreign residents by regional assemblies in Europe, Regional & Federal Studies, 2021.