Towards a "multinational" citizenship : redefining citizenship in multicultural democracies starting from the local level
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This study examines the need for Western European states to redefine the traditional concept of citizenship, which is nowadays challenged by migration. In particular, it shows how it is necessary to stress the inclusive side of citizenship and its intrinsically egalitarian nature. This is fundamental in order to address the issue of effective representativeness of western European democracies in relation to the large number of non-citizen residents. It is also necessary to address the issue of integration of migrants in host societies. It is necessary to make sure that integration does not become a synonym of forced assimilation and that all different cultures are accepted and respected in the host societies. The research identifies in the link between citizenship and nationality the main obstacle to the realisation of an inclusive model of citizenship. It is argued that an important element to overcome this obstacle is the political integration of a country’s all residents. The local level is then proposed as the most suited place to start the process of the creation of a “multinational” citizenship and the right to vote for non-citizens is seen as one main ingredient for it. This study avails itself of the findings of a small field research in the city of The Hague to illustrate the proposed model.