According to this article (original in Romanian, automatically translated), there is rather high discrepancy between representation in Parliament for Romanian citizens that live in Romania and those living abroad (diaspora):

Following the elections of December 11, Romanians living abroad will be able to send only six representatives to Parliament — two in the Senate and four in the Chamber of Deputies. According to various estimates, between 4 and 12 million Romanians live abroad.

A quick and dirty (not all can vote, but I expect similar ratio of non-voters among each group) estimate for representation is:

  • inside Romania: about 460 MPs for about ~19M => 1MP / 40K
  • outside Romania: 6 MPS for about 2M => 1MP / 670K

So, there is a clear discrimination in terms of representation between citizens of the same country based on their country of residence. I am wondering about what is the rationale of having such a discrimination.

Question: What are the reasons behind discriminating between votes inside the country and those from diaspora in regard of proportional representation?

Note: I am pretty sure that such differences are also present in other countries as well. If there are common reasons that covers multiple countries, I even happier to find about those. However, I have narrowed the question to Romania only in case there is no general answer.

  • 1
    In the UK, British citizens living abroad cannot vote at all.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 2:14
  • @gnasher729 - I did not know. Is there a justification for losing voting right once you are out of UK?
    – Alexei
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 6:00
  • 2
    @gnasher, not entirely true. You can register as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after leaving the UK, as long as: you're a British or eligible Irish citizen. you were registered to vote in the UK within the previous 15 years (or, in some cases, if you were too young to have registered when you left the UK)
    – James K
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 8:52
  • @Alexi The justification for (eventually, see above) losing the vote is that UK voting is geographical, and unlike e.g. France the voting districts (constituencies) are all within the UK.
    – origimbo
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 9:08

2 Answers 2


I think most countries do not allow expatriates to vote at all. The idea is that you are not affected by most of what the government of your home country does, so you should have little or no say about it.

Think about everything that the Romanian government does which stays in Romania. I'm not sure about Romania specifically but I'll bet that includes

  • taxes (see EU website on Romanian taxes)
  • public services (except for consular ones)
  • safety regulations
  • infrastructures (roads, power lines, sewage)
  • environmental policies
  • investments in the local economy
  • "most countries do not allow expatriates to vote at all". I don't think this is true. According to the list in Wikipedia, "out of researched 214 countries and territories, 115 had provisions for external voting", and even if "provision for external voting" doesn't mean "allowing voting", we can at least see dozens of countries listed on that page with details that show that many of them allow expatriates to vote. Do you have a source for your claim?
    – justhalf
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 11:46

There are three factors here. I'll call them theoretical, practical and political factors.

The theoretical factors are that people living outside of a countries borders are not directly subject to its laws, and don't in general pay tax, and so do not need the same level of representation.

The practical factor is simply that, even if they have the right to vote, many overseas voters do not bother. The registration process is trickier and may require visits to an embassy. Moreover, overseas citizens (who may have obtained a second citizenship) tend to see matters "back home" from a distance. The question of "brexit" may be a big deal in the UK at the moment, but from the point of view of someone who lives permanently in (for example) Japan, it can seem a bit irrelevant. People who don't care about the issues don't vote, and turnout among expats is much lower. In the USA, expats can vote (and US expats do pay taxes) in presidential elections overseas turnout is around 12 percent.

The political issue is that expats may form a distinct voting bloc. Expat Americans tend to be more liberal than the average US citizen. In Romania, a similar pattern may be in effect. Expats tend to be less nationalistic. So a nationalistic party may want to reduce their influence.

Allowing overseas voting is a fairly recent innovation, it has only existed in the US since 1975 and some countries do not give expats any vote at all. This does dis-enfranchise many voters and in countries, like Romania, with large expat populations, the first and second reasons are weakened, and I suspect it is political considerations that are the actual reason that expats have limited representation in Parliament.

  • 1
    "expats may form a distinct voting bloc" - yes, that is exactly what happens in Romania / Romanian diaspora - 90% of diaspora voted for a presidential candidate supported by the Liberal Party, yet the Social Democrats and satellites (still) have a comfortable majority in both chambers of the Parliament.
    – Alexei
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 6:40

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