Local electoral rights for non-French residents? A case-study analysis of British candidates and councillors in French municipal elections
The French Constitution restricts local electoral rights to French nationals and EU citizens. Third country nationals have long been excluded from suffrage as France has maintained a stronghold on nationality and republican values. Academics have called for expansive and liberal citizenships that would allocate political rights to all non-citizen residents, independent of nationality. This paper argues that Brexit and cessation of Britons' electoral rights present a pivotal moment to discuss expansive citizenship and alien suffrage. Taking a bottom-up approach, the paper presents actual experiences of Britons as candidates and councillors in French municipalities. It demonstrates the importance of residency, representation, participation and inclusion, rather than nationality at the local level to underpin claims for expanding electoral rights. These findings foreground an empirical case for further promotion of theoretical ideas that propose expansive citizenship based on effective residency rather than nationality. Consideration is also given to third country nationals.