Political parties abroad as actors of transnational politics

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Emilie van Haute in collaboration with Tudi Kernalegenn

In Open Access in Comparative Migration Studies.

The paper is an editorial introduction to a Special Issue on parties abroad that includes articles by Susan Collard and Tudi Kernalegenn; Nicolas Fliess; Avital Friedman; Mari-Liis Jakobson, Toni Saarts and Leif Kalev; and Felix von Nostitz.


This paper argues that parties abroad are the actors of a new arena for citizenship and party politics. The proliferation of overseas voting and the development of representative institutions for emigrants has transformed and reinforced the civic and political links between sending-states and their diaspora. This has also created new opportunities for political entrepreneurs and political parties tasked with reaching out to citizens living abroad. Yet research on political parties and on transnationalism has almost never crossed paths. This has created a gap in our knowledge on political parties abroad, demonstrating the timeliness of a special issue on political parties abroad. This paper introduces this special issue and presents an overview of the main theoretical questions and debates addressed in the articles. We emphasize existing gaps in the literature and stress the importance of a better understanding of the growing phenomenon of political parties abroad. We also explain why a comparative approach is necessary to tackle the issue of political parties abroad, offering a theoretically-minded framework. Our summaries of the papers in this special issue highlight how they relate to the more general questions discussed in our introduction.