In 2013, Andrea Blättler and Samuel Schmid – two political science students – attended a research-oriented seminar on the quality of democracy and the quality of democracy measurement instruments at the University of Lucerne. In close collaboration with the lecturer of the seminar, Joachim Blatter, the two created a first version of the IMIX in their seminar paper. The project has been further developed ever since, and you can explore its results on this website.


Prof. Dr. Joachim Blatter is Professor of Political Science and Political Theory at the University of Lucerne.

Andrea C. Blättler is a graduate student at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main and Technische Universität Darmstadt and holds positions as a student research assistant at the Institute of Political Science at Technische Universität Darmstadt and at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt. She holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Lucerne.

Samuel D. Schmid is a PhD researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in World Society and Global Governance from the University of Lucerne. In spring 2015, he was also a research assistant and lecturer at the Department of Political Science at the University of Lucerne.


In the long process leading to our research outputs we had the chance to present our project at different occasions and got a lot of helpful feedback and suggestions. In this sense, we especially want to thank (in alphabetical order) Jean-Thomas Arrighi, Rainer Bauböck, Daniel Bochsler, Karima Bousbah, Marc Bühlmann, Sergiu Gherghina, Robert E. Goodin, Reinhard Heinisch, Marc Helbling, Fran Meissner, and Luicy Pedroza. Furthermore we would like to thank Eva Granwehr and Paola Galano for their excellent research assistance.

Goals, Theoretical Framework and Research Question


Even the most recent and sophisticated instruments for democracy measurement, namely the V-Dem Project and the Democracy Barometer, do not sufficiently take into account the electoral inclusion of immigrants. Meanwhile, in political theory, we can identify what can be seen as an “overlapping consensus” (Rawls) that all long-term immigrant residents need to be enfranchised (see below). Hence, with the IMIX, we aim to close this gap between political theory and democracy measurement.

Theoretical framework

Long-term immigrant residents have a claim to electoral rights because

  • all residents subjected to law must be equally included electorally to secure their personal autonomy and interests (liberal consensus)
  • active citizenship and political participation are necessary for self-determination (civic republicanism)
  • inclusion ensures both recognition as an equal member as well as non-domination (neo-republicanism)

Long-term immigrant residents have a claim to electoral rights when

  • an immigrant has an ordinary residence status with an intention to stay (liberal)
  • an immigrant has a sufficient level of political competence and familiarity(republican)
  • an immigrant has assimilated into the host society (communitarian)

We thus identify a threshold of five continuous years of residence as a plausible compromise between these divergent normative requirements.

Furthermore, we take into account the two possible roads to electoral inclusion: access to citizenship (more conservative), and alien enfranchisement (more progressive). We give more weight to access to citizenship, which is the dominant and more conservative option. The more progressive one’s outlook, the more weight can be given to alien enfranchisement. We provide disaggregated data so the user can choose these weights her- or himself.

Research question and approach

Against this background, we can formulate the following research question:

How inclusive are democracies with respect to the access to electoral rights of immigrant residents?

In answering this question, we apply an explicit normative framework as a benchmark, having an evaluative rather than explanatory goal in mind. We thus aim to bring together normative democratic theory, democracy measurement, and citizenship studies.

Concept and Methodology

Concept formation

Concept specification

Electoral inclusion has two constitutive dimensions and meanings for a comprehensive evaluation:

  •  de jure  assessing the laws regulating the immigrants’ access to citizenship and alien voting rights in light of the normative demands
  •  de facto  counting the number of people who are actually in- or excluded with respect to both means of inclusion

Since both of these dimensions are necessary for a political system to qualify as electorally inclusive, the potential for substitution is limited. We thus apply the geometric mean, as illustrated in the concept tree below, to aggregate the dimensions. For the two pathways to electoral inclusion, access to citizenship and alien enfranchisement, we apply a weighted arithmetic mean.

Concept tree


Operationalization and normalization

  • de jure access to citizenship = selected  EUDO CITLAW indicators // ius soli – naturalization – multiple citizenship // [0-100 – ordinal scale]
  • de jure alien enfranchisement = selected  EUDO ELECLAW indicators with adjustments in aggregation // active suffrage for non-citizen residents in legislative and presidential elections, and referenda – national and local levels // [0-100 – ordinal scale]
  • de facto access to citizenship = selected  Eurostat indicators // (a) citizenship rate = adult citizens / (adults citizens + NCRallt) // [0-100 – ratio] // (b) naturalization rate = citizenship acquisitions / NCRallt  // [0-100 – ratio scale]
  • de facto alien enfranchisement = autonomous data collection // enfranchisement rate = enfranchised aliens in legislative elections / NCRallt // (national and local electorate, specifically weighted) // [0-100 – ratio scale]
  • NCRallt = Non-Citizen Residents adult legal long-term (estimation with Eurostat and ESS)

Before aggregation, the de jure components and the de facto sub-components are normalized. The minima and maxima are adjusted for the citizenship rate [90-100] and the naturalization rate [0-10].



We have deduced the demand to include immigrants from normative theories of democracy, which, in turn, have been developed with a focus on countries with established democracies and stable boundaries. This demand may have to be modified in situations in which the boundaries of a nation-state are contested and its integrity endangered. Also, it seems justified that democracies that are not yet “established” have other priorities. This is why in our application of the IMIX, we limit our investigation to countries which fulfil the two preconditions. For the first criterion, our case selection draws on the “blueprint sample” of the Democracy Barometer, an index which was developed with a similar evaluative purpose. Taking the Polity IV and Freedom House scores as a basis, Marc Bühlmann and his colleagues compiled a sample of 30 countries that can be considered to be the most established democracies in the world. Within the group of established democracies in the EU, however, we exclude the Baltic states since they do not sufficiently fulfil our second precondition. Combined with the overlap of all data sources, this selection allows us to cover a cross-section of 20 EU member states, with data clustering around 2010.


More detailed documentation

All the details of the operationalization and their justifications can be found in the online appendix


The Immigrant Inclusion Index (IMIX) Dataset is publicly available. It allows users to choose different aggregations and examine the disaggregated and partly original data. Download the dataset.


When it comes to the electoral inclusion of immigrants, most European democracies fall into exclusive categories; only seven countries are fairly inclusive (see Table 1). Against the background of the imperative for inclusion in normative democratic theory, we can thus diagnose substantial democratic deficitis with regard to immigrant inclusion across Europe. This shows that, in the age of migration, the ideal of universal suffrage in democratic nation-states is actually far from being realized. This is true independently of whether we count in- and excluded people in numerical terms (de facto) or whether we evaluate the relevant laws (de jure; see Tables 2 and 3). We also find that countries that are restrictive in providing access to citizenship do not tend to offer aliens voting rights as an alternative. Finally, we demonstrate that the EU helps to reduce the exclusiveness of the European nation-state by requiring that migrating EU citizens residing in other member states are granted voting rights on the local level (Table 4). The case of Switzerland shows that if it became an EU member state, it would fare better in our ranking.


Table 1- Results overview // The values indicate the scores on the standardized IMIX scale (0-100). The dimensions are aggregated with the geometric mean. 21 established democracies with stable boundaries in Europe are in the sample. Data clusters around 2010.
Table 2 - De jure inclusiveness // The values indicate the scores of de jure inclusiveness and its two components, mapped onto the standardized IMIX scale (0-100). The components are aggregated with a weighted arithmetic mean. 21 established democracies with stable boundaries in Europe are in the sample. Data clusters around 2010.
Table 3 - De facto inclusiveness // The values indicate the scores of de facto inclusiveness and its three components, mapped onto the standardized IMIX scale (0-100). The components are aggregated with a simple arithmetic mean, thus giving the two citizenship components more weight than the enfranchisement component. 21 established democracies with stable boundaries in Europe are in the sample. Data clusters around 2010.
Table 4 - All results and the proportions attributable to the European Union // IMIX = aggregated Immigrant Inclusion Index; DF = de facto inclusiveness; DJ = de jure inclusiveness; DFcit_cr = citizenship rate; DFcit_nr = naturalization rate; DFae = alien enfranchisement rate; DJcit = de jure access to citizenship; DJae = de jure alien enfranchisement; DF EU % = proportional attributable to the EU for de facto inclusiveness; DJ EU % = proportional attributable to the EU for de jure inclusiveness; IMIX – EU = IMIX score without EU support; some of the values used for the case of Switzerland are based on estimations given the scores on various indicators and additional qualitative data; we tried to streamline the coding of this non-EU case with the EU-sensitive construction of de jure alien enfranchisement; hence, the values for Switzerland are to be seen as an approximation only.

Varieties of Inclusion

The following graphics show some notable country configurations, with examples evenly distributed along the IMIX scale. This points to a further possible usage of our tool, which is to analyze differente 'varieties of electoral inclusiveness with respect to immigrants'. Moreover, such analysis may also serve as starting points for more in-depth single and/or configurative comparative case studies.



Blatter, Joachim;  Schmid, Samuel D.; and Blättler, Andrea C. (forthcoming in 2017): Vom Demokratiedefizit europäischer Nationalstaaten: Elektorale Exklusivität im Vergleich. In: Andreas Glaser (Hrsg.): Politische Rechte für Ausländerinnen und Ausländer? Dokumentation der 8. Aarauer Demokratietage.  Zürich et al.: Schulthess-Verlag.

Blättler, Andrea C.; Blatter, Joachim; and Schmid, Samuel D. (2016). Bedenkliches Demokratiedefizit der Schweiz: Ein Viertel der Bevölkerung ist von demokratischer Mitbestimmung ausgeschlossen. Online contribution to DeFacto:

Blatter, Joachim: Schmid, Samuel D.; and Blättler, Andrea C. (2017). Democratic Deficits in Europe: The Overlooked Exclusiveness of Nation-States and the Positive Role of the European Union. Journal of Common Market Studies, JCMS Volume 55. (3) 449–467.

Blatter, Joachim; Hauser, Clemens; and Wyrsch, Sonja (2016) Kein Stimmrecht - trotzdem mitstimmen. In: Abbt, Christine & Rochel, Johan (eds.). Migrationsland Schweiz. 15 Vorschläge für die Zukunft. Baden: Hier und Jetzt, Verlag für Kultur und Geschichte.

Blatter, Joachim (2016). Politisiche Inklusion der Immigranten in der Schweiz: Defizite und Handlungsmöglichkeiten. Dossier: "Prospérité et bien-être" et "Migration et mobilité". Bulletin SAGW 3. 52-53.

Blatter, Joachim; Schmid, Samuel D.; and Blättler, Andrea C. (2015). The Immigrant Inclusion Index (IMIX). A Tool for Assessing the Electoral Inclusiveness of Democracies with Respect to Immigrants. Working Paper No.08, 2nd edition, Working Paper Series 'Glocal Governance and Democracy', Department of Political Science, University of Lucerne.

Blatter, Joachim; Blättler, Andrea C.; and Schmid, Samuel D. (2015). What happened/s to inclusion? A plea and three proposals for closing the gap between democratic theory and empirical measurement of democracies. Working Paper #64, IPSA Committee on Concepts and Methods Working Papers Series.