An overseas constituency or overseas electoral district is any electoral district located outside of a nation-state's borders but which is recognized by the state's government as a district for the representation of its expatriate (and, technically, military) residents who live within the territory of another nation-state. Such constituencies are often organized in order to engage expatriate or diaspora voters who retain their citizenship.
The overseas constituency is considered different from intra-party primaries (organized and funded entirely by political parties or political party organizations with overseas offices) held overseas for expatriate voters.
Instances of government constituencies
|Country||Number of overseas seats||Notes|
|Algeria||8||Algeria reserves eight of its 382 parliamentary seats for citizens abroad, many of whom reside in France.|
|Angola||3||Angola has adopted legislation to create three overseas electoral constituencies, but has not yet implemented external voting.|
|Cape Verde||6||Six representatives are elected by the Cabo Verdian diaspora: two to represent Cabo Verdians living in Africa, two for the Americas, and two for Europe and the Rest of the World.|
|Colombia||1||A single seat in the Chamber of Representatives is reserved for Colombians abroad.|
|Croatia||3||A single, at-large, multi-member constituency is available for Croatians in the diaspora.|
|Dominican Republic||7||Seven representatives are elected by the Dominican diaspora: two to represent Dominicans living in the Caribbean and Latin America, two for Europe, and three for Canada and the United States. This became effective in the 2012 Dominican presidential election, when Dominican expatriates could vote in by-elections for the new seats.|
|Ecuador||6||Six representatives are elected by the Ecuadorian diaspora: two to represent Ecuadorians living in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa; two for the United States and Canada; and two for Europe, Asia and Oceania.|
|France||11||In 2010, prior to the 2012 legislative election, the world was divided into eleven single-seat constituencies for French residents overseas to be represented in the National Assembly.|
|Italy||12||Italy has four overseas constituencies, which elect members to both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.|
|Lithuania||1||Lithuania has one overseas constituency since 2020.|
|North Macedonia||3||Ahead of the 2011 election Macedonia created three parliamentary seats for its citizens abroad. They were divided into three constituencies comprising Europe/Africa, Americas, and Asia/Oceania.|
|Mozambique||2||Mozambique has overseas constituency one for citizens living in the rest of Africa, and one for those in the rest of the world.|
|Portugal||4||Portugal's Assembly of the Republic seats four reserved seats for citizens abroad, two for living in the rest of Europe and the other two for those in the rest of the world.|
|Romania||6||Bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (136 seats, 2 reserved for the diaspora; members serve 4-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies (329 seats, 17 reserved for non-Hungarian national minorities and 4 for the diaspora; members serve 4-year terms);|
|Tunisia||18||Eighteen of the 217 members of the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia (elected in 2011) represent Tunisians abroad. Almost a million Tunisians live abroad, including approximately 500,000 in France.|
Polling for Tunisians abroad took place in 80 countries around the world. France, Tunisia's former colonial ruler, elected ten representatives; Italy three; Germany one; North America and the rest of Europe two; and other Arab states two.
Issues and criticism
The establishment of overseas constituencies has generated concern among some governments over possible infringements to national sovereignty. Notably, the Canadian government of Stephen Harper in 2011 protested at the establishment of such constituencies covering the territory of Canada by France and Tunisia, and publicly declared that voting booths for the upcoming elections for both countries would not be allowed in Canadian territory. However, in 2012, an agreement was reached between the three countries whereby such booths could be located primarily in embassies and consulate offices. Canada was the only nation that opposed being included in the overseas constituencies.
Instances of political party overseas constituencies
Conservatives Abroad (CA) is the official political organisation and global network of the Conservative Party for British citizens living permanently or temporarily abroad.
Democrats Abroad is an organization which encourages support among U.S. citizens living overseas for the Democratic Party; it has sent a delegation to the Democratic National Convention since 1976 and held its first worldwide party primary in 2008. It is recognized as a "state committee" on par with other statewide committees within U.S. territory.
- Sundberg, Andy. "DIASPORAS REPRESENTED IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY PARLIAMENTS" (PDF). Overseas Vote Foundation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-07.
- "Dominicans can now vote abroad". Dominican Today. 11 February 2011. Archived from the original on 24 February 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- "Lithuanians living abroad to have single-member constituency during next election".
- "Expat Tunisians cast votes". Gulf Daily News. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- Davies, Lizzy (20 October 2011). "Tunisians abroad vote 'with hands trembling and tears flowing'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- Hassall, Graham (2007). Voting from Abroad: The International IDEA Handbook (PDF). Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. p. 53. ISBN 978-91-85391-66-0.
- "Nine things you should know about the French election that treats Canada, and the rest of the world, as a province". National Post. June 2, 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
- About Lib Dems Abroad