Defending popular sovereignty: discursive conflict in French and Swedish parliamentary debates on immigrant voting rights (1968-2017)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Through a discourse analysis of French and Swedish legislative debates from 1968 to 2017, this article examines how actors challenge and reinforce dominant ideas about the link between nationality and political rights. We argue that the broader political culture influences which discursive strategies—or “frames”—are more likely to structure parliamentary debates in different national contexts. However, our analysis also shows that legislators sometimes develop new discursive frames in which they reinterpret dominant norms to make them consistent with their views. Through this incremental process of reinterpretation and reformulation of dominant ideas, debates over non-citizen voting rights have chipped away at the link between nationality and political rights. Our findings suggest that initiatives to enfranchise non-citizens trigger lower levels of conflict when they can be framed as a policy tool for immigrant integration rather than as a matter of popular sovereignty.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • Non-Citizen voting rights, popular sovereignty, frames, Sweden, France
Original languageEnglish
JournalCitizenship Studies
Early online date2019 Oct 16
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Oct 16
Publication categoryResearch