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Lecture | Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminar (LIMS)

Noncitizen Migrant Enfranchisement in Democracy and Dictatorship in Chile, 1925 and 1980

  • Leiden University (Humanities)
Wednesday 28 October 2020
Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars 2020-2021
Via: https://smart.newrow.com/room/?qjg-259&fr=lti

LIMS talk by Vicky Finn (Diego Portales University [Chile], Political Science) and Leiden University (Humanities), entitled 'Noncitizen Migrant Enfranchisement in Democracy and Dictatorship in Chile, 1925 and 1980'.


The Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars (LIMS) aim at fostering further discussion across disciplines on migration-related topics and creating an open dialogue between the speakers and the attendees. The seminars are a platform for those at Leiden University working on migration-related topics.


Fear, terror, and control are words used to discuss dictatorship, whereas inclusion, participation, and freedom parallel democracy. While survival of social and political rights is unusual in dictatorship, granting more voting rights is bizarre, especially at a time without elections. An early adopter of local-level immigrant suffrage in 1925, Chile expanded foreign residents’ rights to national-level elections in the 1980 Constitution. How and why did a military dictatorship expand immigrant voting rights? Building on existent literature and data, I conduct textual analysis of the 1974 Ortúzar Commission during constitutional revision, complemented with historical archival research in Chile. I argue that political co-optation, control, and the immigrant population size fail to explain immigrant voting rights’ survival and extension through shifting (non)democratic regimes. This extreme case of immigrant enfranchisement in Chile reveals the importance of both path dependence and elites’ divided opinions on optional versus obligatory voting for foreign residents versus nationals

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