Study title
Democratic Deficits in Europe: The Overlooked Exclusiveness of Nation-States and the Positive Role of the European Union
Ref study 12482
Study language English
Contributing institutions
  • Democracy
  • European Union
  • Citizenship
  • Immigration and integration policy
  • Alien voting rights
  • Democratic deficit
  • Inclusion
  • Democracy measurement
  • Suffrage
  • Naturalization
Data clustering around 2010 (see note in geographical space)
Geographical space
20 "most established democracies with stable boundaries" in the EU, plus Switzerland: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Switzerland


We have deduced the demand to include immigrants from normative theories of democracy, which, in turn, have been developed with a focus on countries with established democracies and stable boundaries. This demand may have to be modified in situations in which the boundaries of a nation-state are contested and its integrity endangered. Also, it seems justified that democracies that are not yet “established” have other priorities. For such cases, we thus would have to adjust our evaluation criteria. This is why in our first application of the IMIX, we limit our investigation to countries which fulfil the two preconditions – and to EU member states, since our argument only applies to them. (However, we included Switzerland in the dataset as a contrasting case for a non-EU member.) For the first criterion, our case selection draws on the “blueprint sample” of the Democracy Barometer, an index which was developed with a similar evaluative purpose. Taking the Polity IV and Freedom House scores as a basis, Marc Bühlmann and his colleagues compiled a sample of 30 countries that can be considered to be the most established democracies in the world (all those that have consistently perfect scores from 1995-2005 on both indices). Within the group of established democracies in the EU, however, we exclude the Baltic states since they do not sufficiently fulfil our second precondition. Combined with the overlap of all data sources, this selection allows us to cover a cross-section of 20 EU member states (plus Switzerland), with data clustering around 2010. As indicated above, we could draw on databases by EUDO CITIZENSHIP for measuring the de jure components. For the de facto components, we collected data from Eurostat , the European Social Survey 2010 and official country statistics.
  • Switzerland
Abstract of the article:

With the help of the Immigrant Inclusion Index (IMIX), a quantitative tool for measuring the electoral inclusion of immigrants, we demonstrate that European democracies are much more exclusive than they should be. All normative theories of democracy share the conviction that it is imperative that democracies include long-term immigrant residents into the demos – either by granting citizenship or by introducing alien voting rights. But even the 20 most established and stable democracies within the EU are far from fully realizing the ideal of ‘universal suffrage’. This is true independently of whether we count in- and excluded people in numerical terms, or whether we evaluate the relevant laws and regulations. Therefore, we diagnose a substantial democratic deficit on the level of European nation states. The EU, for once, plays a positive role in reducing one of the most fundamental democratic deficits in times of migration.
When it comes to the electoral inclusion of immigrants, most European democracies fall into exclusive categories; only seven countries are fairly inclusive. Against the background of the imperative for inclusion in normative democratic theory, we can thus diagnose substantial democratic deficitis with regard to immigrant inclusion across Europe. This shows that, in the age of migration, the ideal of universal suffrage in democratic nation-states is actually far from being realized. This is true independently of whether we count in- and excluded people in numerical terms (de facto) or whether we evaluate the relevant laws (de jure). We also find that countries that are restrictive in providing access to citizenship do not tend to offer aliens voting rights as an alternative. Finally, we demonstrate that the EU helps to reduce the exclusiveness of the European nation-state by requiring that migrating EU citizens residing in other member states are granted voting rights on the local level.
Methods (description)
The article introduces a comparative democracy assessment tool, the Immigrant Inclusion Index (IMIX). Our concept specifies the electoral inclusion of immigrant residents as having two constitutive dimensions and meanings for a comprehensive evaluation: 1) de jure: assessing the laws regulating the immigrants’ access to citizenship and alien voting rights in light of the normative demands; 2) de facto: counting the number of people who are actually in- or excluded with respect to both means of inclusion. Since both of these dimensions are necessary for a political system to qualify as electorally inclusive, the potential for substitution is limited. We thus apply the geometric mean, as illustrated in the concept tree below, to aggregate the dimensions. For the two pathways to electoral inclusion, access to citizenship and alien enfranchisement, we apply a weighted arithmetic mean.

Description of the index components:
* de jure access to citizenship = selected EUDO CITLAW indicators // ius soli – naturalization – multiple citizenship // [0-100 – ordinal scale]
* de jure alien enfranchisement = selected EUDO ELECLAW indicators with adjustments in aggregation // active suffrage for non-citizen residents in legislative and presidential elections, and referenda – national and local levels // [0-100 – ordinal scale]
* de facto access to citizenship = selected Eurostat indicators // (a) citizenship rate = adult citizens / (adults citizens + NCRallt) // [0-100 – ratio] // (b) naturalization rate = citizenship acquisitions / NCRallt // [0-100 – ratio scale]
* de facto alien enfranchisement = autonomous data collection // enfranchisement rate = enfranchised aliens in legislative elections / NCRallt // (national and local electorate, specifically weighted) // [0-100 – ratio scale]

NCRallt = Non-Citizen Residents adult legal long-term (estimation with Eurostat and ESS)

Before aggregation, the de jure components and the de facto sub-components are normalized. The minima and maxima are adjusted for the citizenship rate [90-100] and the naturalization rate [0-10].
Methods (instruments)
  • Other method instrument : Coding of legal and demographic data
Replicated study No
Financed by
Ethical approval No
Study type
Data availability
Source (Updates) Web
Date created 27.10.2016
Date modified 27.10.2016
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