An overseas constituency or overseas electoral district is any electoral district located outside of a nation-state's borders but which is recognized by the state's government as a district for the representation of its expatriate (and, technically, military) residents who live within the territory of another nation-state. Such constituencies are often organized in order to engage expatriate or diaspora voters who retain their citizenship.
The overseas constituency is considered different from intra-party primaries (organized and funded entirely by political parties or political party organizations with overseas offices) held overseas for expatriate voters.
Instances of government constituencies
|Country||Number of overseas seats||Notes|
|Algeria||8||Algeria reserves eight of its 382 parliamentary seats for expatriates, many of whom reside in France.|
|Angola||3||Angola has adopted legislation to create three overseas electoral constituencies, but has not yet implemented external voting.|
|Cook Islands||1 (defunct)||The Cook Islands established provisions for an overseas parliamentary seat in 1981, but abolished it in 2003.|
|Colombia||1||A single seat in the Chamber of Representatives is reserved for Colombians abroad.|
|Croatia||≤ 6||A single multi-member constituency is available for Croatians in the diaspora. Up to six representatives can be elected to represent the overseas constituency.|
|Dominican Republic||7||Seven representatives are elected by the Dominican diaspora: two to represent Dominicans living in the Caribbean and Latin America, two for Europe, and three for Canada and the United States. This became effective in the 2012 Dominican presidential election, when Dominican expatriates could vote in by-elections for the new seats.|
|France||11||In 2010, prior to the 2012 legislative election, the world was divided into eleven single-seat constituencies for French residents overseas to be represented in the National Assembly.|
|Italy||12||Italy has four overseas constituencies, each with three representatives.|
|Macedonia||3||Ahead of the 2011 election Macedonia added three parliamentary seats for expatriates. They were divided into three constituencies comprising Europe/Africa, Americas, and Asia/Oceania. The addition of overseas seats was contentious because only 7,213 people registered to vote from abroad, meaning that expatriate electors were vastly overrepresented in parliament.|
|Mozambique||2||Mozambique has one overseas constituency representing expatriate in Africa, and one for all other expatriates.|
|Portugal||4||Portugal's Assembly of the Republic seats two reserved seats for expatriates, one for Portuguese expatriates in Europe and the other for expatriates elsewhere outside of Portugal.|
|Tunisia||18||Eighteen of the 217 members of the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia (elected in 2011) represent Tunisians abroad. Almost a million Tunisians live abroad, including approximately 500,000 in France.
Polling for expatriate Tunisians took place in 80 countries around the world. France, Tunisia's former colonial ruler, elected ten representatives; Italy three; Germany one; North America and the rest of Europe two; and other Arab states two.
Issues and criticism
The establishment of overseas constituencies has generated concern among some governments over possible infringements to national sovereignty. Notably, the Canadian government of Stephen Harper in 2011 protested the establishment of such constituencies covering the territory of Canada by France and Tunisia, and publicly declared that voting booths for the upcoming elections for both countries would not be allowed in Canadian territory. However, in 2012, an agreement was reached between the three countries whereby such booths could be located primarily in embassies and consulate offices. Canada was the only nation that opposed being included in the overseas constituencies.
Instances of political party overseas constituencies
Democrats Abroad is an organization which encourages support among U.S. citizens living overseas for the Democratic Party; it has sent a delegation to the Democratic National Convention since 1976 and held its first worldwide party primary in 2008. It is recognized as a "state committee" on par with other state-wide committees within U.S. territory.
- Sundberg, Andy. "DIASPORAS REPRESENTED IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY PARLIAMENTS". Overseas Vote Foundation.
- Hassall, Graham (2007). Voting from Abroad: The International IDEA Handbook. Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. pp. 53 – 53. ISBN 978-91-85391-66-0.
- "Dominicans can now vote abroad". Dominican Today. 11 February 2011.
- "Expat Tunisians cast votes". Gulf Daily News. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- Davies, Lizzy (20 October 2011). "Tunisians abroad vote 'with hands trembling and tears flowing'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- "Nine things you should know about the French election that treats Canada, and the rest of the world, as a province". National Post. June 2, 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2014.