Emigrant Political Rights: Regulation and Implementation, Strategies of State Control of Citizens Abroad in Argentina and Colombia.

Leydy Diossa-Jimenez, University of California, Los Angeles

In 1991 Argentina and Colombia approved emigrant political rights for their citizens residing abroad (i.e., dual citizenship, voting from abroad, and political representation). While Colombia approved these rights through the Constitutional Assembly, Argentina’s president Carlos Menem approved emigrant voting via Legislative Act. Far from being completed, these two processes required regulations that took place differently. In 1993, for the first time, Argentines participated in National Legislative Elections. Colombians, on the other hand, only participated in presidential elections and only started participating in legislative elections in 1998 and 2002, seven years after their approval. What accounts for this differential implementation of political rights for two populations who received the right of voice in 1991? How can we account for the differential interpretation of the laws in these countries? How can we explain the varying levels of participation in the homeland? This paper compares the trajectories of regulation and implementation of emigrant political rights in both countries. While Colombia is a case of substantive political rights, Argentina is a case of restrictive political rights. It analyzes the role of experts in the regulation and implementation of rights as a field of contestation in the national political arenas. Furthermore, it argues that career politicians and electoral experts used their position in the field to either expedite or block the implementation of these laws to exercise state control over the population abroad. This study used archival data from the Civil National Registry of Colombia, The Archive of the National Senate in Argentina between 1993 and 2002, The Contemporary Oral History Archive of Argentina, and interviews with keyholders of the 1990s including former presidents, politicians, representatives, and senators.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 166. Comparative analysis of political institutions