Migration & Democracy

People walking Photo: MM/ JRS - 2005


The challenge of migration to democracy

Migration poses fundamental challenges to democracies. Large migration flows strain democratic institutions’ capacity to effectively integrate migrants into society, and call into question the extent to which governments should enable migrants’ political participation and integration. Migration affects governments’ ability to deliver public services.

Public debate and concerns about migration, including whether multiculturalism ‘works’, showcase the polarization of societies and policymakers’ dilemmas in the search for adequate responses. 


Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Democracy Project

With the global refugee population reaching an estimated 19.5 million by mid-2015, compared to 10.4 million in 2011, the world has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of refugees and asylum seekers. Although 86 per cent of refugees are hosted by countries in the Global South, the Global North is also experiencing an exceptional rise in the flow of refugees. While ongoing policy debates are largely focused on the humanitarian, social and economic implications of large-scaleforced migration, issues related to refugees’ and asylum seekers’ civic and political inclusion and their potential to participate in political life and decision-making processes in both host and origin countries have not been adequately explored.

Refugees have the potential to make an impact on the political life of both their host and origin countries, as they often maintain transnational links with their homelands while at the same time becoming part of the host society. Recognizing the dual role of refugees and asylum seekers as political actors in their host and origin countries, the ‘Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Democracy’ project aims to generate comparative knowledge on the impact of refugees and asylum seekers on political life through formal and informal means of political participation.

Through this project, policymakers, including political parties, legislators, and organizations of refugees and asylum seekers, will be provided with relevant country examples and policy recommendations for the effective inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers in civic and political life.

This project is funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.



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Therese Pearce Laanela
Head of Electoral Processes
Therese Pearce Laanela is the Head of Electoral Processes at International IDEA.