CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition
“As I was born a citizen of a free State, and a member of the Sovereign, I feel that, however feeble the influence my voice can have on public affairs, the right of voting on them makes it my duty to study them.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762)

1Studies devoted to the relationship of immigrants to politics have gradually started to unearth unheeded, even unknown swaths of practices and know-how that seamlessly combine conventional and non-conventional political practices. Attesting to the prominence of the assimilationist model in migration studies, such studies have long focused exclusively on the political integration of migrants within their host society. However, the recent popularity of the transnational paradigm across the social sciences [1] has helped to revitalise this approach. This shift has allowed researchers specialised in migration studies to break free from “methodological nationalism” [2] and thus pave the way for an investigation of migrant participation in political life in both their host countries and countries of origin. To date, however, research on the transnational voting behaviour of migrants remains limited, save for studies that have focused almost exclusively on the American continent (Mexico [3] and to a lesser extent, the Dominican Republic). [4]

2The relative lack of studies examining the electoral behaviour of migrants with regard to their country of origin appears even more paradoxical once we consider the fact that, in recent years, most nations have granted dual citizenship to nationals residing abroad. [5] According to a study published in 2007, close to 115 countries or territories out of 191 today have provisions designed to enable overseas voting rights. [6] States that traditionally witnessed high levels of emigration have also followed this general trend. The political transitions that have taken place in such states since the 1990s have been accompanied by the granting of long sought-after voting rights for migrants. Moreover, countries of origin have appeared particularly willing to grant these rights, as financial transfers from migrants have become an increasingly important source of currency for local economies. [7]

3The study presented below is the first statistical analysis devoted to African transnational electoral processes. We believe that this article, which takes Senegal as its case study, is of crucial importance for more than one reason. First, it emphasises the fact that sub-Saharan African countries now undertaking “routine” [8] election processes have not held back from such reforms. Quite the contrary: thirty or so African countries now grant overseas voting rights to their emigrants. By concentrating on Senegal, our study moreover allows us to investigate a country which possesses a long history of migration towards Europe (since the beginning of the twentieth century) [9] and towards the North American continent (since the 1980s). [10] In addition, Senegal’s electoral history, originally begun under colonisation, [11] underwent a new development in 1992 with the reform of the Electoral Code, thus granting voting rights to Senegalese citizens residing abroad [12] (Table 1).

Table 1

An international election: participation of overseas Senegalese citizens in the 2012 presidential election

Table 1
Total Senegalese in Senegal Senegalese abroad As % of the total Number of registered voters 5,302,349 5,112,436 189,913 3.6% 1st round Number of voters Participation rate 2,735,135 51.6% 2,659,774 52.0% 75,361 39.7% 2.8% 2nd round Number of voters Participation rate 2,915,893 55.0% 2,827,848 55.3% 88,045 46.4% 3.0%

An international election: participation of overseas Senegalese citizens in the 2012 presidential election

Source: European Union Election Observation Mission, “Senegal. Final Report. Presidential Election, 26 February 2012, first round – 25 March 2012, second round” (Brussels: European Union, 2012), 44–5.

4Drawing on several statistical mechanisms, starting with a comparative survey that we conducted in France and the United States during the first round of the 2012 Senegalese presidential election (cf. methodological note), this article begins with a review of the literature on migrant electoral participation, with an emphasis on the changes that permitted the introduction of the transnational paradigm in political science. Next we shall present the two main themes that emerge from the data collected. The first theme relates to the high level of migrant electoral participation. Despite the persistence of a “hidden poll tax” on this population, the rate of participation is particularly high for elections in both host and home countries in the case of emigrants with dual citizenship. The data shows cumulative participation which deviates from the (normative) assumptions of early assimilation theorists. The second theme relates to the importance of “social remittances” between host countries and countries of origin. [13] During “electoral periods”, these are characterised by the circulation between “here” and “there” of “electors” [14] come to secure votes for their candidate, as well as the transmission between Africa and Europe or North America of voting recommendations whose influence stems preponderantly from host countries towards countries of origin.

5This study hopes to shed new light on the research conducted by electoral sociologists and migration scholars. It offers a forceful testimony to the value that territories characterised as “Africanist” [15] represent for the social sciences, whose absurdly simplified nature can only be called into question, given the growing internationalisation or transnationalisation of migratory flows coming out of Africa since the last century.

The 2012 presidential election in Senegal: issues and outlook

A historical change in power took place in 2000, when the victory of Abdoulaye Wade of the Senegalese Democratic Party (Parti démocratique sénégalais – PDS), [16] and his reelection in 2007 – contested by an opposition party [17] – put an end to forty years of the Socialist Party’s (Parti socialiste – PS) rule. The 2012 presidential election consequently had a very clear focus: beyond the mere election of a head of state, what was at stake was the very image of a country and the consolidation – or imperilment – of its democratic system. The desire of President Abdoulaye Wade, officially aged 86 at the time, to impose his son Karim Wade and attempt to secure a third mandate ultimately transformed the electoral contest into a “referendum” for or against Abdoulaye Wade.
Having learnt its lessons after its defeat in 2007, the opposition, and in particular its diaspora, [18] began preparing for the new election well ahead of time in order to secure votes and win the battle for public opinion. The electoral campaign effectively began on 23 June 2011 when Abdoulaye Wade tried to change the rules of the game by making the second round of the election optional if the leading candidate obtained at least 25 per cent of the votes. This political coup was thwarted by the mobilisation of the opposition, and in particular, of “civil society”, notably in Dakar, challenging the regime. After this success, the opposition and civil society next attempted to invalidate Abdoulaye Wade’s candidacy. However, the Constitutional Council endorsed his candidacy on 27 January 2012, triggering several days of rioting (and six fatalities) that coincided with the beginning of the official electoral campaign. But due to the desire of the majority of Senegalese citizens to participate in the election, voting prevailed over street protests. The latter nonetheless significantly contributed to stripping Wade of his legitimacy, thanks to the police repression that ensued and the international media coverage of the election and its consequences.
At the end of the first round, Abdoulaye Wade was in the lead with 35 per cent of the vote, followed by his former prime minister, Macky Sall (26%), now leader of the Alliance for the Republic (Alliance pour la République – APR), both thus qualifying for the second round. The 12 other candidates, in particular Moustapha Niasse of the Alliance for the Forces of Progress (Alliances pour les forces du progrès – AFP) and Ousmane Tanor Dieng of the Socialist Party, decided to rally around Macky Sall in order to beat Wade. This transfer of votes was massive: Macky Sall won 66 per cent of the vote, the incumbent president only mustering 34 per cent. The new President Macky Sall governed with this coalition, which likewise won the legislative elections in July 2012.
In the end, despite the intensity of the preelectoral crisis and the regional “citizenship crisis”, [19] the Senegalese government confirmed that its democratic processes were being routinised and organised an election whose results were not contested.

The electoral participation of migrants: a new research subject for French social science

The shift from the assimilationist paradigm to the transnational turn

6The electoral participation of migrants in the elections of their host country has long been a subject of research for American sociologists seeking to gauge the “assimilation rate” of immigrants. [20] In monographic or comparative studies, [21] scholars have examined not only the question of immigrant naturalisation and voting registration, [22] but also partisanship and political affiliation, [23] ultimately demonstrating the considerable influence wielded by socialisation in the country of origin and contextual variables with regard to electoral behaviour.

7Until the 1970s, French sociologists as well as political scientists seemed consistently disinterested in the socio-political behaviour of immigrant populations. As Catherine Wihtol de Wenden has pointed out, the political practices of groups that were excluded from voting were not immediately apparent in traditional studies of political science. [24] The growing politicisation of the issue of immigration and the rise of the National Front (Front National – FN) in the 1980s changed this landscape. The protest movements and surge in voting among young people from North African backgrounds which ensued paved the way for the first studies of the socio-political attitudes of migrants and, more generally, began to outline the possibility of a “Muslim vote”. [25] Contrary to all expectations, the studies conducted by Anne Muxel, and subsequently Jocelyne Césari, not only demonstrated that the influence of immigrants’ religion on their electoral practices was non-existent, but furthermore that the second generation had “incorporated the rules and the issues” of the French political system: their voting patterns nevertheless diverging from those of “native-born youth” by tending “massively towards the left”. [26] A study conducted during the mid-2000s by Sylvie Brouard and Vincent Tiberj, titled “Rapport au politique des Français issus de l’immigration” (Relationship of Immigrant French to Politics – RAPFI) and which sampled a representative population of French citizens aged 18 and over of African or Turkish origin, confirmed these two preliminary studies, highlighting the “legitimacy [conferred] on the French model and institutions” by immigrants in France, as well as their solid alignment with the left. [27]

8The introduction in migration studies of a transnational approach – whose first theoreticians sought to analyse the set of “processes by which immigrants forge and sustain multi-stranded social relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement” [28] – has markedly enriched the question of electoral participation by including political engagement in countries of origin.

9In the United States, the first studies on migrant participation in the political life of their countries of origin illustrated the continuum that could be traced between non-electoral and electoral participation, as well as between civic and partisan engagement. [29] In 2006 and for the first time, the Mexican presidential election incorporated overseas polling offices, [30] which helped to further research on the subject. Contrary to what Mexican officials and polling research institutes had predicted, the rate of participation in the United States was excessively low. Fewer than 35,000 people voted, despite the potential electorate having been estimated around 4 million individuals. Studies immediately following these results emphasised the contextual variables that had significantly weakened electoral participation among Mexican-Americans. First, they noted the bureaucratic obstacles many had confronted when attempting to register to vote. Second, they highlighted migrant opposition to a specific draft law (The Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Act of 2005), introduced in the Senate at the time of the election and designed to criminalise illegal immigrants, a circumstance which would have caused many potential voters to neglect their home country’s presidential election and focus instead almost exclusively on the issues at stake in their host country. [31]

10Research on the transnational electoral behaviour of migrants established in France [32] and, more generally, in Europe, [33] nevertheless remains limited. Expanding the scope to migrant populations in general, the “Trajectoires et Origines” study (Trajectories and Origins – TeO) which was conducted in 2008 on 22,000 individuals in metropolitan France by the National Institute of Demographic Studies (Institut national d’études démographiques – INED) and the Institut national de statistiques et d’études économiques (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies – Insee) allowed the French context to be linked with the quantitative analysis of political practices “here” and “there” for the first time. This study also examined the question of both electoral and non-electoral practices, “civic involvement [being] positively correlated”, according to Vincent Tiberj and Patrick Simon, with all factors indicating political interest, voter registration and voting. [34] In particular, the study highlighted the very high rate of civic and community-based engagement of sub-Saharan African migrants, especially when compared to migrants as a whole, and the former’s marked interest, compared to other national groups, in the politics of both their home and host countries.

Voters: a “dominant faction” of the migrant population?

11Academic interest in the electoral participation of migrants has also been complemented by research on the socio-demographic characteristics of migrants with the highest rates of participation, either conventional or non-conventional. Since the pioneering work done by Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch and Cristina Blanc-Szanton, [35] the theory of a form of transnational political engagement inherently specific to migrants has been heavily nuanced. Without necessarily delving into the debate surrounding the concepts of “civic culture” forged in the United States, [36] or “representative democracy” as popularised in France, [37] and which also challenge the notion of “political competence”, [38] the research hitherto conducted tends to underscore the relatively small number of migrants mobilised, as well as the latter’s position within “the dominant factions of the migrant population”. [39]

12Consequently, at the end of a study based on the transnational political activities of Colombian, Dominican, and Salvadorian immigrants in New York, Luis Eduardo Guarnizo, Alejandro Portes and William Haller determined that the transnational politicisation of migrants only affected a relatively limited number of individuals. Across all countries, less than 28% engaged in community-based or associative activities focused on their home countries; less than 19% participated in activities pertaining to a political party in their country of origin. [40] This study likewise demonstrated the specific and selective flavour of these individuals’ socio-demographic characteristics: they were mainly men, often married, possessing academic qualifications and “in their prime”. [41] Their social characteristics distanced them from the somewhat populist notion of the “transmigrant” as elaborated by the first theoreticians of the “transnational turn”.

From monetary remittances to social remittances

13Our literature review would not be complete without mentioning the growing importance of the circulation of norms and ideas within the field of migration studies; this issue takes on fundamental significance when we attempt to investigate the transfers between increasingly internationalised or extra-territorialised voting territories. In an article published at the end of the 1990s, the sociologist Peggy Levitt proposed the concept of “social remittances”, establishing lexical symmetry with the concept of monetary remittances in the wake of increasing numbers of studies on the complex and particularly uncertain causal links between migration and the economic development of countries of origin.


“Social remittances are the ideas, behaviours, identities, and social capital that flow from receiving-to sending-country communities. They are the north-south equivalent of the social and cultural resources that migrants bring with them which ease their transitions from immigrants to ethnics.” [42]

15In this article, Levitt notably established a tripartite classification of social remittances: “normative structures”, which included “ideas, values, and beliefs”; “systems of practice”, which comprised “household labour, religious practices, and patterns of civil and political participation”; and finally, “social capital”. [43]

16This definition has the merit of providing a conceptual framework for social conditions of which sociologists and historians have long been cognisant. Without dwelling on the extensive bibliography on the subject, let us note that in the realm of sub-Saharan African migrations, the transfer of normative structures may draw on research into the internationalisation of social movements, in particular African independence movements; [44] whilst the circulation of systems of practice draws on investigations concerning union membership. [45] Finally, studies on the transfer of social capital have drawn on research into positions adopted by migrants in relation to appropriating and redistributing “development income” as a result of the networks established during the course of their migratory experience, between non-governmental organisations and development agencies in their host country, on the one hand, and local elites in their home country, on the other. [46]

17The stimulating insights proposed by this new and still incomplete literature demonstrate the value of promoting more focused comparative research on the electoral behaviour of migrants, with a view to understanding the influence of socialisation on their socio-political behaviours in various host countries, and the nature and intensity of their transnational political practices with regard to their home countries, but also the possible interaction between these two relationships in terms of voter mobilisation. Among the three kinds of comparisons used in academic studies of immigration (linear, convergent and divergent), the divergent model, which is based on location variation and analyses several immigrant groups who share the same country of origin but are scattered throughout different cities and countries, [47] is the best suited to answer the questions posed by our research. First, the divergent model allows us to move beyond a “minority community perspective” which tends to “isolate”, even reify, a “given community” by focusing solely on origins to provide an explanation. [48] Second, this method offers the possibility of focusing on the processes of adaptation, acculturation and socialisation in host countries, processes which are essential considerations when closely analysing the socio-political behaviour of migrant populations.

The cumulative participation of the migrant elite both “here” and “there”

18In comparing the electoral behaviour of Senegalese migrants in France and the United States, our statistical survey follows in the footsteps of a number of other studies that have examined the different places that immigration occupies in the national imagination of France and the US, as well as how these two nation states were formed, and the different constructions that they have put on citizenship and nationality throughout history. [49] As a result of these differences – or perhaps despite them – here we highlight and analyse the strong similarities that characterise the electoral behaviour of migrants on both sides of the Atlantic, both in terms of participation and socio-demographic selectivity and in terms of political and partisan engagement among the voting population.

Comparing the French and American models of civic integration

The comparative analysis of models of citizenship (understood to be active participation in the life of society) reflects the different ways in which political communities are born and developed, but also the valued-based and hierarchical conflicts which afflict society as soon as one tries to define the necessary criteria for belonging to the community of those who hold a degree of political sovereignty.
In the case of democracies such as the United States and France, the declaration of civil, political and social rights, theoretically for all – and starting with the right to vote – was thus accompanied by the exclusion of entire social groups, whether African-Americans in the first case [50] or subjects of the Empire in the second. [51] As the rule of law was consolidated in these two countries and their demographic compositions were transformed due to huge waves of immigration at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, the concept of citizenship was interpreted very differently. [52] While the United States enshrined the existence of “ethnic” or “religious” groups within the public sphere, France rejected the creation and expression of minority-group affiliation and limited it to the private sphere. [53]
Establishing different models of citizenship also left its mark on how migrants integrated within partisan groups. Work done by American researchers since the 1960s has shown the dominance of certain ethnic groups termed “special interest groups” in the structuring of American political life, so significant on both local and national levels that it calls into question the foundational myth of the “melting pot”. [54] In France, the markedly more recent introduction of the concept of “diversity” in national political life has contributed to a reshaping of the models of civic integration, which political scientists are only now beginning to get to grips with. [55]
The contemporary transformations of citizenship have problematised what is at stake in the exercise of political sovereignty. The “transnationalisation of minority group-based identities”, [56] intensified by the granting of dual citizenship in both home and host countries, will require scholars on both sides of the Atlantic to start asking new questions. We cannot currently know if the research that will be done will confirm the divergence of these two models of civic integration or whether it will suggest their growing convergence.

The cumulative electoral participation of Senegalese citizens abroad

19The “Sortie des urnes” (SSU) exit poll conducted in February 2012 underscored the high level of electoral engagement among Senegalese migrants in their host country’s elections when they possess dual citizenship. [57] Our sample was comprised of 42% of bi-nationals in France and 18% in the United States; the latter number’s relatively small size is evidence of the more recent trend of Senegalese immigration to the North-American continent. [58] When polled regarding their electoral commitment, 89% and 81% of bi-nationals in France and the United States, respectively, said that they were registered to vote in their host country. 66% and 75% stated that they had voted in the French presidential election in 2007 and the American presidential election in 2008, while 96% and 90% expressed the desire to vote in the 2012 presidential elections of their respective host countries.

20The high rates of voter registration and participation of Senegalese emigrants have been confirmed by several statistical surveys using representative samples of the French migrant population (Table 2). According to the “Trajectoires et Origines” study, the French population born in Africa (but outside of the Maghreb) is the foreign-born group with the highest rate of voter registration for both local and national elections (87% for men and women alike) of all migrant populations (79% and 82% for migrant men and women respectively). The reported rate of participation for men in the French presidential election in 2007 (89%) was also slightly higher than that of the immigrant population as a whole (84%), while the rate for women was slightly lower than the immigrant population as a whole (83% compared to 85%). [59] A second study conducted by Insee, the “Enquête participation électorale 2012” (2012 Voter Participation Survey) also confirmed the significant mobilisation of French nationals born in sub-Saharan Africa and more specifically, of Senegalese immigrants. [60] Participation in both rounds of the 2012 French presidential election thus rose to 75% for immigrants born in Senegal, compared with 66% for those born in other regions of sub-Saharan Africa and “only” 61% for immigrants on the whole.

Table 2

Voter registration and participation of bi-national Senegalese immigrants in the French presidential elections of 2007 and 2012

Table 2
French population as a whole French nationalised immigrant population as a whole Born in Africa (not Maghreb) Born in Senegal 2007 presidential election Registered to vote Voted in the first round 89% men and women (1) 87% men, 90% women (1) 79% men, 82% women (1) 84% men, 85% women (1) 87% men and women (1) 89% men, 83% women (1) 82.5% (3) 66.0% (3) 2012 presidential election Registered to vote 92.6% (2) 67.2% (2) 65.1% (2) 65.3% (2) Voted in both rounds 66.4% (2) 60.9% (2) 65.7% (2) 74.8% (2)

Voter registration and participation of bi-national Senegalese immigrants in the French presidential elections of 2007 and 2012

(1) Source: “Trajectoires et Origines” survey (INED) conducted on a sample of 22,000 individuals in metropolitan France, aged 18 to 50 years old; (2) Source: “Enquête participation électorale 2012” survey (Insee) conducted on a sample of 40,000 individuals drawn from the general voter list compiled by Insee. This data was graciously shared by Xavier Niel, head of the Demographic Studies and Surveys division of Insee. These figures included 159 individuals who were born in Senegal and now possessed dual citizenship; (3) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” 2012 – France (DIAL- exit poll) conducted on 354 voters in the first round of the Senegalese presidential election, surveyed when exiting polling stations in Paris, Marseille and Le Havre. Among those individuals, 149 were born in Senegal and had obtained dual citizenship.

21Data on the electoral mobilisation of Senegalese migrants in the United States is more limited. Nevertheless, the statistics provided by the Voting and Registration Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the American Census Bureau show that the rate of participation in the 2008 presidential election for naturalised American citizens that were born in Africa (61%) was higher than the rate for naturalised citizens on the whole (54%) (Table 3). Their electoral participation was in fact the highest of all regional migrant groups (57%, 48% and 56% for naturalised citizens originally from Europe, Asia and Latin America), with the exception of the North American continent (76%). [61]

Table 3

Voter registration and participation of bi-national Senegalese immigrants in the American presidential election

Table 3
French population on the whole French naturalised immigrant population On the whole Born in Africa Born in Senegal 2008 Presidential Election Registered to vote 71.0% (1) 60.5% (1) 67.5% (1) 94.5% (2) Voted 63.6% (1) 54.0% (1) 61.1% (1) 72.0% (2)

Voter registration and participation of bi-national Senegalese immigrants in the American presidential election

(1) Source: “November 2008 Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting and Registration Supplement” conducted by the American Census Bureau; (2) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” 2012 – United States (DIAL) conducted on 199 voters in the first round of the Senegalese presidential election exiting polling stations in New York (Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx).

22The differential in voter registration rates and even more markedly, in participation rates for different countries or regions of origin is significant in both the French and American cases. It highlights the important influence of the political culture of home countries on the socio-political behaviour of migrants in their host country. Reviewing the participation rates for various national groups in the United States, Catherine Simpson Bueker thus underscored that the country of origin was a good indicator of political integration for migrant populations. As her research has shown, migrants arriving from countries that possess democratic institutions are the most likely to vote once naturalised. [62] The comparatively high rate of participation for Senegalese immigrants in their host country’s elections supports this hypothesis. It also suggests that Senegal’s democratic experience continues to positively influence the electoral behaviour of Senegalese migrants abroad, even more so when they reside in France and the United States, two Western democracies, despite the unequal recognition that ethno-national groups may receive in the public forum.

23For the 2012 Senegalese presidential election, the official rates of participation domestically and abroad were 51.5% and 39.7% respectively for the first round, and 55% and 45.5% respectively for the second round. The difference between participation domestically and abroad appears to be a constant. Scholars who have examined these sometimes considerable gaps, notably in the case of Mexican immigrants, [63] have highlighted the numerous factors which may favour abstention: often complex bureaucratic procedures which require on-site visits to the consulate during working hours; potentially large distances between voters’ homes and assigned polling stations; the risk for illegal immigrants, who nevertheless have the right to register and vote, of travelling through increasingly policed public spaces; and a lack of confidence in the home country’s institutions, including its consular and diplomatic representations. Such elements confirm the basic tenets of classical electoral sociology regarding the correlation between electoral participation and successful social “integration”.

24The gap between the participation of Senegalese citizens at home and abroad becomes more complex when we compare participation rates across different countries of immigration (Table 4). Disparities appear which stem in particular from the size of the migrant population and the establishment of community networks in host countries. These two factors strongly determine the vigour with which Senegalese political parties campaign there. Electoral mobilisation is thus high in countries that border Senegal, or which have high levels of emigration, but lower in countries that are geographically distant or possess a smaller Senegalese population. The participation rates for the Senegalese presidential election in 2000 illustrate this fact, [64] even if significant convergence can be noted for later elections.

Table 4

Electoral participation of Senegalese immigrants in Senegalese presidential elections

Table 4
Senegalese population as a whole Senegalese in Senegal Senegalese abroad total France USA 2000 Election, first round 62.2% (1) 63.1% (1) 39.7% (1) 48.2% (1) 44.6% (2) 41.7% (1) 52.8% (3) 2007 Election, single round 70.6% (4) 70.8% (4) 61.8% (4) 55.5% (4) 51.1% (2) 74.5% (4) 50.8% (3) 2012 Election, second round 51.6% (5) 51.5% (5) 39.7% (5) 41.9% (6) 51.9% (5)

Electoral participation of Senegalese immigrants in Senegalese presidential elections

(1) Source: African Elections Database; (2) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” 2012 – France (DIAL); (3) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” 2012 – United Stats (DIAL); (4) Source: data provided by the Autonomous National Electoral Commission; (5) Source: European Union Election Observation Mission, “Sénégal. Rapport final. Élection présidentielle”, 44-5; (6) Source: data provided by the Autonomous National Electoral Commission, France delegation. The figures from different sources are not directly comparable, as the data from sources (2) and (3) reflects a sample sub-population of 354 and 199 Senegalese citizens who voted in the first round of the 2012 presidential election, polled in France and the United States respectively.

25The relative similarity between participation rates in France and the United States in the case of the 2012 presidential election can be explained by the fact that, despite greater geographical distance and a more recent immigration trend on the American continent, the symbolic and numerical importance of the Senegalese community in these two countries drove all fourteen candidates (most specifically the PDS and APR, but also to a lesser extent the PS and AFP candidates) not only to conduct campaigns there and organise meetings to win over the migrant vote, but also to incite migrants to encourage their families back home to vote for their candidate. In addition, the wave of protests in both France and the United States against the outgoing president’s shift towards authoritarianism, as well as the transnational nature of groups and coalitions originally formed in Senegal – the M23 (23 June Movement) or the “Y’en a marre” (YEM - “Enough is enough”) movement in particular [65] – helped to transform the Senegalese presidential election into a high-stakes voting opportunity for members of the diaspora. [66] Migrants were in fact called upon to both vote against the outgoing president and incite their relatives back home to follow their example.

26On the basis of these elements, we can thus propose a guiding hypothesis: that electoral mobilisation in host countries helped to consolidate electoral mobilisation in countries of origin. Following this logic, we can also surmise that it compensated for the relatively low rate of participation abroad, which ended up at “only” 39.7% for the first round and 45.5% for the second. [67]

27The “Sondage sortie des urnes” (SSU) exit poll thus highlights the cumulative nature of electoral participation in elections both “at home” and “abroad”. In the French case, for which we have access to the most representative sample possible of the Senegalese population (the MIDDAS survey – see the methodological note in the annex), the participation rate is indeed much higher for the individuals polled who had dual citizenship than for those who only had Senegalese citizenship. Comparing the MIDDAS survey’s representative sample with the SSU survey reveals that 42% of voters had dual citizenship, but only represented 23% of the total population. With regard to the United States, it is difficult to establish such a precise comparison, no study like the MIDDAS survey having yet been conducted there. The latest data from the US Census Bureau likewise does not provide information regarding the Senegalese population, as the Bureau stopped collecting birthplace information in 2010. [68] We must thus limit ourselves to observing that in 2000, when the previous census took place, 20% of the Senegalese population was naturalised, and in 2012 18% of the Senegalese citizens who voted in their home election were bi-national. The slight gap between these two figures can be explained by the relatively recent nature of Senegalese immigration to the United States.

28These two sets of data from the United States and France emphasise the fact that the gradual assimilation of migrants into their host societies does not necessarily drive them to cut ties with their home countries, as early theorists of immigration had suggested. In fact, this assimilation would seem rather to strengthen ties, in particular for a specific group of migrants whose characteristics illustrate the unequal participation rates across migrant populations as a whole.

Does a “hidden poll tax” on migrant populations still exist?

29Comparing the samples used in the SSU and MIDDAS surveys confirms the unequal levels of participation in France, along the same lines as traditionally correlated with “heavy” socio-economic variables (Table 5). In addition to the fact that the migrants voting the most frequently in France are those with the greatest number of rights, as conferred by their dual nationality (42%of voters in the first round of the most recent Senegalese presidential elections, compared with 23% of the MIDDAS sample population), those who are the most successfully integrated socially are also the most politically active. Education is a decisive factor in this equation. Almost half of the individuals who voted (47%) had completed two years of education after the baccalaureate (Bac+2), while this group only comprised approximately a quarter of the total reference population (24%). Employment status and income level also seem to be essential factors for explaining participation. The unemployed are under-represented (8% of voters, compared with 14% of Senegalese migrants in France), in the same way as part-time workers (9%, compared with 23%) and labourers (13%, compared with 38%). In contrast, executives and managers account for 24% of the voters, while this group only represents 5% of the total reference population. In terms of housing, while those individuals living in social housing account for almost a quarter of the population (21%), this percentage falls to 6% for the voting population. Conversely, those individuals who own property/are first-time buyers and those living in individual houses or apartments represent 13% and 87% of voters, compared with 4% and 71% respectively for the representative sample. Marital status also appears significant: 59% of voters are married, compared with 44% of the representative sample of the Senegalese population. On the other hand, no criterion seems to separate this group from the general population with regard to age, with the exception of a very slight over-representation of individuals over 60 years old (8% compared with 3%).

30For the aforementioned reasons, it is not possible to present an equally nuanced comparative portrait of the voting population in the United States in relation to the total sample. In terms of the lessons from electoral sociology, however, we may nevertheless hypothesise that if such a comparison had been possible, it would have confirmed this over-selectivity. Statistics obtained regarding the American data from the SSU show striking similarities with those obtained in France (Table 5): 18% of Senegalese voters living in New York possessed dual citizenship; 49% had completed studies that were at least equivalent to a French Bac+2 level; 74% were regularly employed; and 85% lived in single-family homes or apartments.

Table 5

Socio-economic characteristics of Senegalese populations living in France and of the Senegalese citizens who voted in the first round of the Senegalese presidential election in France and the United States in 2012[69][70][71]

Table 5
Senegalese population in France (1) Population voting in France (2) Population voting in the United States (3) Average age, in years 37.0 38.6 42.0 Sex (%) Men Women 75.7 24.3 65.3 34.7 71.4 28.6 Nationality (%) Senegalese Bi-national 77.0 23.0 58.0 42.0 82.0 18.0 Religion (%) Murid Muslim Tijaniyyah Muslim Qadiriyya Muslim Other Muslim Christian Other 20.7 24.0 2.0 45.7 7.3 0.3 13.3 38.1 2.3 37.0 7.6 1.7 33.3 27.2 1.0 31.3 5.1 1.5 Ethnicity (%) Wolof Fula and Toucouleur Mandinka Soninke Jola Mandiaque Serer Other 27.3 25.0 11.0 19.7 4.0 4.7 5.3 3.0 28.3 33.3 7.1 9.0 5.9 7.1 5.7 3.6 57.6 20.2 1.0 2.0 4.0 1.0 6.1 8.1 Diploma level (%) None CEP1 BEPC2 CAP/BEP3 Baccalaureate Baccalaureate + 2 > Baccalaureate + 2 40.0 7.7 10.7 7.7 9.7 6.7 17.7 15.3 9.5 7.5 6.1 14.1 10.1 36.9 21.2 3.6 5.2 2.1 18.7 13.5 35.8
Table 5
Employment situation (%) Employed 78.7 78.1 74.4 Unemployed 14.3 8.2 9.1 Not on the job market 7.0 13.3 11.6 Unknown 0.0 1.4 1.5 Housing situation (%) Single-family home or apartment 71.3 87.3 84.9 Social housing 21.0 5.7 4.5 Single room 3.3 2.8 2.0 Hotel or other 4.3 2.1 5.0 Unknown 0 2.3 3.5 Arrival date in host country (%) Born in host country 3.7 3.4 0 Arrived before 1990 24.0 25.1 10.1 Arrived between 1990 and 2000 24.7 21.2 34.2 Arrived after 2000 46.3 49.6 43.7 Unknown 1.3 0.9 12.1

Socio-economic characteristics of Senegalese populations living in France and of the Senegalese citizens who voted in the first round of the Senegalese presidential election in France and the United States in 2012[69][70][71]

Source: MIDDAS 2009 Survey, conducted on 300 Senegalese citizens living in France; (2) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” 2012 – France (DIAL); (3) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” 2012 – United States (DIAL).

Diaspora partisan preferences

31Our studies show that migrants polled during the first round of the Senegalese presidential election on 26 February 2012 were left-leaning in their host country – 70% and 50% of Senegalese voters reported that they shared the ideas of the opposition in France (the left) and of the party in power in the United States (the Democratic Party), with 24% and 28% respectively stating that they did not wish to answer or did not have an opinion. In France, those with left-wing sympathies were generally well-integrated migrants who had been in France for a long time. In the United States, Senegalese voters who shared the opinions of the Democratic Party were indistinguishable from their compatriots who expressed sympathy with the Republican Party, except that the most recent immigrants tended to be more pro-Republican.

32The data collected confirms the left-wing alignment of migrants across all immigration flows in Western democracies (the Cuban migrants found in the United States being the exception to this rule); this alignment also tends to increase the longer migrants live in their host country. This data likewise corroborates the recent studies conducted on the political positioning of migrants in France and the United States.

33Based on the data collected during the RAPFI survey, Sylvain Brouard and Vincent Tiberj also demonstrated that the immigrant population was left largely unaffected by the political crisis affecting the working-class population in general; 76% of those polled who had emigrated from Africa or Turkey reported that they identified with a left-wing party. The TeO survey nuanced these results by demonstrating that the first generation of Sahel African immigration (39%) and especially their children (48.5%) were more likely to vote for the left than migrant groups from other regional areas. [72] Their political positioning highlights how perceptions and experiences of racism and discrimination are translated into votes in favour of the parties that are best suited to represent and defend immigrants. In Céline Braconnier and Jean-Yves Dormagen’s study on the Cité des Cosmonautes in Saint-Denis which identified “a rise in financial instability”, the “disappearance of any kind of political framework” and a “massive surge in African immigration”, a large proportion of left-wing votes were “identity votes”. [73]

34In a similar fashion, the many studies conducted on the political positioning of migrants in the United States have underscored their closeness to the Democratic Party. According to these studies, this closeness tends to intensify over time and with generational renewal. [74] The “ethnic vote” does not appear to be replaced by a “class vote”, which attests to the predominance of a “collective conscience” and the feeling of a “shared fate”. [75]

35The studies that we conducted also attest to the existence of a “Senegalese opposition abroad”. During the first round of the election, 73% and 61% of Senegalese voters respectively living in France and the United States reported that they identified with the Senegalese opposition.

36This figure confirms the tendency of the diaspora in both France and the United States to more frequently support the opposition than the ruling party (with the exception of the 2007 election) [76] and, in general, to give the incumbent scores that are largely inferior to his national score and his score among the rest of the diaspora (cf. Figure 1 below). The differential is particularly marked (between a 15 and 20 point gap) for elections where the outgoing president lost (2000 and 2012). But it can also be seen, albeit in an attenuated fashion (between a 1 and 10 point gap) in electoral contests where the incumbent was re-elected (1993 and 2007). [77] The gap is also more pronounced in the United States than in France. The results of the 2012 election are especially telling. In the first round, Abdoulaye Wade was in the lead in Senegal but only in second place in France and third place in the United States, winning less than 20% of the vote in the two latter countries. [78] In the second round, he lost by an even greater margin than in Senegal. In France, Macky Sall won with 84% of the votes, compared with 82.5% in the United States and 65.8% in Senegal.

Figure 1

Results of the Senegalese presidential election in 2000, 2007 and 2012. Domestic and overseas results

Figure 1

Results of the Senegalese presidential election in 2000, 2007 and 2012. Domestic and overseas results

Overseas Senegalese are Senegalese registered to vote in other African countries, in Europe (including France), in the American continent (including the United States), and in Asia.
Source: Data from the National Independent Electoral Commission; charts drawn up by the authors.

37Surveys do not provide an explanation for why the diaspora vote significantlymagnifies national tendencies in favour of the opposition. The overseas vote in the United States as in France can in fact be read as a manner of anticipating power changeovers: not in the sense that it might swing the election – the diaspora vote being too small to wield such power – but in the sense that the diaspora vote on both sides of the Atlantic seems to be one election ahead of the rest of Senegal. [79] Additionally, following in the footsteps of work done by Linda Beck during the election in 2000 in the United States, [80] we could hypothesise that in being less dependent on the Senegalese state for its social status and mobility, as well as access to financial resources, the diaspora is consequently more autonomous with regard to the clientelist and patronage networks established by the ruling party in order to obtain the outgoing candidate’s re-election. The atypical nature of migrant votes can likewise be seen in the results of some “small” candidates who obtain ridiculously low scores in Senegal due to their lack of patronage networks, but who manage to win a significant number of votes in France or the United States. [81]

38The ethno-linguistic and religious make-up of Senegalese voters in France and the United States is different. While the Wolof population represents the majority of voters in the USA (57.6%), it accounts for less than a third in France (28%). On the other hand, the Fula and Toucouleur groups represent only a fifth of all Senegalese voters in the US, compared with a third (33%) in France. [82] Muslims belonging to the Murid brotherhood were under-represented in the French sample of voters (13.3%), compared with the sample in the United States (33.3%).

39With regard to the American situation, Linda Beck has already emphasised the importance of interconnected community factors, which can help to explain the voting patterns in the 2000 election. [83] The SSU survey only partially confirms this hypothesis for 2012. At first glance, the religious and ethno-linguistic differences seem to translate into the political preferences of voters. For example, Wolof individuals residing in the United States are closer to Wade’s PDS than other communities: 21% reported feeling political sympathy for the PDS, compared with 6% of Fula voters and 7% on average for other ethnicities. In addition, 29.2% of Murid brotherhood members claimed political kinship with the PDS, compared to 8% for other religious groups. However, these differences in political preferences may merely reflect socio-economic characteristics. This is the conclusion reached by an econometric analysis in which the probability of voting for the PDS is correlated only with income variables, and not ethno-linguistic or religious affiliations. Let us likewise observe that the difference in the Wolof/Murid vote does not occur in France: 11.0% of Wolofs and 12.8% of Murids expressed support for the PDS, and 11.0% of Senegalese voters in other communities stated the same.

40Descriptive statistics also sketch the outline of a Fula and Toucouleur voting pattern. In France, three times more Fula and Toucouleur voters support Macky Sall’s APR party than other groups (30.5% compared with 9.3%); in the United States, they are twice as numerous (32.5% compared with 13.8%). However, in this case as well, the regressions conducted highlight the importance of socio-economic factors. Consequently, the observed differences in political choices may perhaps simply reflect the socio-economic traits of groups with different migratory paths. [84]

41Although the voters polled in both the United States and France were proportionally more likely to belong to a Senegalese political party rather than a party in their host country, some of them were nevertheless members of a partisan organisation either in home or host countries: 5.5% and 4.8% respectively (Table 6).

Table 6

Partisan engagement of Senegalese immigrants in France

Table 6
France (1) United States (2) Number % of those polled Number % of those polled Member of a political party in host country 37 10.5% 17 8.5% Member of a political party in home country 90 25.4% 59 29.7% Member of a political party in both countries 17 4.8% 11 5.5% Number of individuals polled 354 199

Partisan engagement of Senegalese immigrants in France

(1) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” exit poll 2012 – France (DIAL); (2) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” exit poll 2012 – United States (DIAL).

42Hence the data collected allow us to underscore the fact that the cumulative nature of electoral participation at home and abroad described above finds a natural extension in an equally cumulative, if proportionally much more marginal, form of partisan political engagement. An ethnographic study would allow us to recreate the socio-biography and prosopography of these internationalised activists, as well as examine the potential institutional relationships that link together Senegalese political parties and their French or American counterparts, including certain interactions within the context of international partisan forums such as the Socialist International (SI) and Liberal International (LI). [85]

Social remittances: social capital, electoral practices and voting recommendations

43As we have already set out the factors that govern electoral participation, we must now try to understand how public opinion is formed and citizens are driven to vote. To do this, we must rely on a second comparative model: the comparison of social remittances between home and host countries. This analysis will allow us take the measure – or at least a measure – of the nature and scope of the circulation of social capital, practices and norms within the transnational Senegalese public arena.

Transfers of social capital

44Dramatic changes in information and communications technologies as well the reduced cost of telephone calls have allowed migrants to communicate on a more frequent basis than in the past with members of their family back home. [86] The densification and (long-distance) intensification of inter-personal relationships – whose influence on the ability of individuals to form political opinions has already been underscored by Paul Lazarsfeld and his team of researchers [87] – has facilitated social remittances between Africa and the Americas or Europe.

45The “Sortie des urnes” (SSU) exit poll emphasises the high frequency of telephone calls made between home countries and host countries. Of those polled in France and the United States, 20% and 26% respectively reported that they communicated daily with their family back home. In the case of France, the MIDDAS sample shows a striking depth and regular frequency of contact for the voting population, especially when compared with data for the whole of the Senegalese population living in France. To wit: although individuals who reported having weekly telephone contact represent more than half of the Senegalese population (59%), they account for almost three-quarters of the voting population (71.5%); 20% of these individuals also reported daily communication.

46Within the voting population, Senegalese political life is heatedly discussed in social circles which span emigration countries and immigration countries. In response to a multiple-choice question, voters indicated that they had discussed Senegalese politics with their friends and family living in Senegal (17% and 19% with members of their family, 6% and 10% with friends) and in their host country (32% and 34% with Senegalese friends living in France or the United States, 23% and 24% with relatives in those countries).

47These interlinked social relationships are powerful incentives not only to follow the campaign but also, for more politically active voters, to rally their friends and family and voters in general. Consequently, 24% and 15% respectively of those polled in France and in the United States who had actively participated in the campaign said that they had mobilised friends and family in their host countries; 20% and 13% their friends and family in Senegal; 16% and 11% their work colleagues in France and the United States. Mobilisation, understood in its broadest sense in the questionnaire, includes just being registered to vote as well as transmitting voting recommendations.

48Building upon the first studies on transnational social formation, current migration literature now offers a wealth of information on those migrants who, along their migratory paths, have developed networks which link host and home countries. In his research on migrant social capital, Alejandro Portes has thus highlighted the “cumulative growth of networks” which “were established throughout a lengthy and often difficult process of immigration and adaptation, a process which lends them a specific nature and leads them to mutually reinforce one another through their economic activities”. [88] Studies, notably those conducted on migrant associations in the United States and in Europe, have shown the status gradually obtained by their leaders, who become veritable “urban public figures” [89] and the “source of social capital and potential social legitimacy” that they represent for states which are increasingly “extraterritorialised” and “confronted with major economic and political challenges”. [90]

49The “Sortie des urnes” (SSU) exit poll emphasises just how much Senegalese political parties have been able to benefit from the status obtained by migrants in order to mobilise voters not only in host countries but also back home. In fact, 6% of voters in France and the United States said that they had returned to Senegal to campaign for their candidate. This percentage is particularly striking when one considers the significant distance separating Dakar from Paris – and the even greater one from New York. The circulation of migrants throughout the different territories of the Senegalese vote attests to the impact that the transnational circulation of these “grand electors” from one “extraterritorialised” voting territory to another can have on the vote.

Transfers of practices and norms

50Social remittances are particularly important for the Senegalese electoral process, given that they can lead to higher rates of voter registration (Table 7). For example, 64% and 63% of those polled in France and the United States reported that they had encouraged members of their family in Senegal to register to vote and added that 57% and 49% of the time, those family members followed their advice. The inverse was also reported, albeit in a more muted fashion: 41% and 48% of those polled in France and the United States said that they had been encouraged by their family back home to register to vote; 29% and 35% respectively said that they had followed this advice.

Table 7

Social transfers of practices and norms

Table 7
France (1) USA (2) Towards Senegal Registration “Have you encouraged members of your family back home to register to vote?” 64.4% 63.3% “Did they follow your advice?” Voting 56.5% 49.3% “Did you give voting recommendations to your family back home?” 29.4% 27.1% “Did they follow your advice?” 24.0% 19.1% Towards host countries Registration “Did your family encourage you to register to vote?” 40.7% 47.7% “Did you follow their advice?” Voting 28.5% 34.7% “Did your family give you voting recommendations?” 14.2% 15.6% “Did you follow their advice?” 10.5% 10.6%

Social transfers of practices and norms

(1) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” 2012 – France (DIAL); (2) Source: “Sondage sortie des urnes” 2012 – United States (DIAL).

51With regard to ballot choices, we also found, albeit to a lesser degree, social transfers between members of the same family, while the injunctions (ndiggël) made by certain religious leaders seem to have negligible effect. [91] Consequently, 29% and 27% of voters in France and the United States reported that they had given voting recommendations to their family back home; 24% and 19% added that these recommendations had been followed. The inverse appears less valid: 14% and 16% of voters in France and the United States declared that they had received voting recommendations from their family but only 11% in both countries said that they had followed those recommendations.

52As an equivalent survey was unable to be conducted in Senegal on account of pre-election violence (cf. methodological note), it is difficult to evaluate precisely the real scope and influence of these recommendations. We may nevertheless presume that recommendations directed towards Senegal have a much greater impact for the country of origin, due to the fact that its households are usually characterised by large, extended families where multiple generations live together. [92] Consequently, voting recommendations would appear to hold more weight when they come from host countries and are directed back to home countries, in part because these recommendations reach more family members at once.

53As result, we can better understand why Senegalese political parties are so committed to campaigning in host countries, no matter how “far” the latter may be. The “battles” of Paris and New York are not merely electoral contests to win over the voters of those two cities, but in fact attempts to influence voters throughout Senegal by relying on the social capital of migrants.

Future research

54Among the many challenges posed by the internationalisation of research is the question of how scholars break down the barriers between domains of knowledge which are specific to a particular field, and which the specialisation of today’s research landscape tends to fragment. Hence we shall attempt to outline three different avenues for future research which each emerge from the disciplines and fields which we have drawn on in this article: African studies, political sociology and migration studies.

55Until now, studies on the political participation of the African diaspora have focused on non-conventional forms of participation. In addition to the many works on the community activism of migrants, [93] the formation of a political space in migratory situations has also been analysed. [94] Studies devoted to conventional migrant political participation – in the sense of “normal” electoral participation just “like everyone else” – have been few and far between, however. [95] And yet our study has demonstrated the need for a greater understanding of diaspora electoral participation within the context of African studies, as this would allow for greater precision in describing voting patterns and the electoral systems of home countries. First of all, the differences observed between the diaspora vote and the home country vote allow us indirectly to analyse the sociology of voters and the factors determining voting patterns in the home country. Second, variations by host country within the diaspora vote itself are good indicators of the different histories of migratory flows. In both cases, the relatively limited numbers of diaspora voters produce a “magnifying effect” that allows us to analyse with more precision the political or community-based cleavages which exist in the home countries. The study of diaspora electoral mobilisation, the transfer of social capital and the “reverberation” and “refraction” of practices and norms across home and host countries provides a new example of the “extroversion” of African societies. [96]

56Further research, both qualitative and quantitative, will allow us to measure how political participation has been shaped by the diaspora since African countries granted the right to vote to overseas voters, as well as the effects of this political participation on the continent’s political systems. At this preliminary stage of research we cannot accurately judge its proven contribution to the democratisation of African societies and states.

57The insights of our study are not confined to the realm of African studies, however. In addition to offering an oblique reinterpretation of electoral sociology, both with regard to voting territories and electoral participation, our study also sheds new light on the numerous recent works on political “diversity”, which we see as excessively assimilationist in outlook. The turn to a transnational approach will allow scholars to better grasp the social and political contexts in which these activists and elected officials operate. First, we should seek to under-stand how socialisation in home countries and the use of transnational social capital have been able to influence first-generation migrants’ entry into political parties in their host countries. Second, we should also try to comprehend how these migrants participate (or not) in the continuation of the “historical post-colonial bloc” [97] and in international relations between home and host countries. [98] Such future avenues for research could also be fruitful for work on the political culture which links France with its former colonies and which is also transmitted “from below”.

58Finally, our work has also shed new light on certain questions that are specific to migration studies, starting with the complex relationships between migration and development. Until now, research has often focused on development associations created by migrants in order to provide “material” support to their home communities in the name of a “disinterested” developmental ideal. On the one hand, such studies have not, according to our analysis, sufficiently taken into consideration how associative and political engagement could be inter-connected, the latter being denied by associative actors who value an “apolitical” stance, and often overlooked by researchers as well. On the other, studies on the impact of migration on home countries have usually focused solely on monetary remittances, without necessarily always comprehending the scope of their embedded nature within social networks. This article thus calls for a deeper analysis of activist trajectories across both associative and political fields, and for a nuanced investigation of social remittances between host and home countries. [99]

Methodological note

59Proof that the assimilationist model still dominates migration studies, “multi-site” or “multilocation” studies, [100] whether qualitative or quantitative, remain scarce, despite being of crucial importance for understanding migration routes. This lack is even more pronounced in the case of African migration flows, for which researchers have lamented “the lack of appropriate official and social scientific data as well as the frequent absence of appropriate sampling frameworks in the form of census or survey data”, [101] which bears relation to the insufficiencies of local statistical instruments. [102]

60With the hope of addressing this lack, two research projects led by members of the “Institutions et mondialisation” (DIAL) joint research and development unit have recently been launched, seeking to link together several different national research centres. [103] The data used in our article originate from these two projects. They were collected using innovative “multisite” investigative protocols designed for comparative studies on the social trajectories and transnational practices between the country of origin (Senegal), and the various host countries for Senegalese immigrants.

Data collected in the context of the MIDDAS project

61The data from the MIDDAS project were collected using a traceback protocol designed to shed light on the socio-professional trajectories of Senegalese migrants in their various countries of emigration – France, Italy, Côte d’Ivoire and Mauritania – and the strength and nature of the relationships they maintained with their families back home. The data is inherently paired as it was collected not only from the migrants themselves, but also in Senegal from the families of those migrants.

62The data used in this article only pertain to Senegalese migrants interviewed in France. The survey, which took place in June and July 2009, was conducted by 13 investigators and compiled a sample of 300 observations. The questionnaire was organised around ten modules designed to collect detailed information about migrants’ living conditions in their host country (housing, occupation, family, social network, etc.), on those of their families back in Senegal, and on the frequency and the amounts of funds that migrants sent back to their relatives. The sample population was designed so as to be as representative as possible of the Senegalese population in France, considering as the parent population the whole of the Senegalese population recorded by Insee in its 2005 census.

Data collected in the context of the POLECOMI project

63The data used in the POLECOMI project, termed “Sondage sortie des urnes” (SSU), was collected via a traceback protocol designed to produce detailed information on the electoral behaviour of Senegalese migrants in their different countries of immigration, and their potential influence in their country of emigration during the first round of the Senegalese presidential election on 26 February 2012.

64354 observations were collected in three different voting locations in France (Le Havre, Marseille and Paris) and 199 observations were collected in three voting locations in the United States (Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx), in collaboration with Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies (IAS). Respectively, 18 and 12 investigators conducted the French and American dimensions of the survey. The questionnaire was organised around four main areas: socio-demographic characteristics of migrants; nature and extent of connections with Senegal; community, union or partisan engagement in host country; social transfers.

65The same equivalent survey in Senegal, which would have allowed us to understand the impact of electoral mobilisation in host countries on electoral mobilisation in Senegal, could not be completed. The National Polling Committee quite simply refused to grant our request for authorisation to interview voters as they were leaving polling stations in Senegal. [104] The deterioration of the political situation and pre-election violence further warranted cancelling the survey and turning to alternative methods, the risk to researchers having been deemed too great. The obstacles faced by the second part of the survey highlight that the transnationalisation or internationalisation of research projects comes up against local and contextual constraints which should be addressed more directly by researchers than they currentlyare, in particular asthey provide valuable insight into the socio-political issues within these territories.


  • [1]
    Johanna Siméant, “Transnationalisation/internationalisation”, in Olivier Fillieule, Lilian Mathieu, Cécile Péchu (eds), Dictionnaire des mouvements sociaux (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2009), 554-64.
  • [2]
    Andreas Wimmer, Nina Glick Schiller, “Methodological nationalism, the social sciences, and the study of migration: an essay in historical epistemology”, International Migration Review, 37(3), 2003, 576-610.Online
  • [3]
    Cf. Robert C. Smith, “Contradictions of diasporic institutionalization of Mexican politics: the 2006 migrant vote and other forms of inclusion and control”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 31(4), 2008, 708-41; Jean-Michel Lafleur, Leticia Calderón Chelius, “Assessing emigrant participation in home country elections: the case of Mexico’s 2006 presidential election”, International Migration, 49(3), 2011, 99-124.Online
  • [4]
    José Itzigsohn, Daniela Villacrés, “Migrant political transnationalism and the practice of democracy: Dominican external voting rights and Salvadoran home town associations”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 31(4), 2008, 664-86.
  • [5]
    Cf. in particular David C. Earnest, “Neither citizen nor stranger: why states enfranchise resident aliens”, World Politics, 58(2), 2006, 242-75; Thomas Faist, Jürgen Gerdes, Beate Rieple, “Dual citizenship as a path-dependent process”, International Migration Review, 38(3), 2004, 913-44.Online
  • [6]
    The breakdown by continent is as follows: 28 countries or territories in Africa, 16 in the Americas and the Caribbean, 20 in Asia, 41 in Europe and 10 in the Pacific. Cf. International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Federal Electoral Institute of Mexico (IFE), Voting from Abroad. The International IDEA Handbook (Stockholm/Mexico, International IDEA/IFE, 2007).
  • [7]
    Alan Gamlen, “Why engage diasporas?”, COMPAS Working Paper. University of Oxford, 63, 2008.
  • [8]
    Céline Thiriot, “Les élections en Afrique, un ‘objet scientifique pertinent’”, Afrique contemporaine, 239, 2011, 133-5 (134). Cf. in particular Dmitri-Georges Lavroff (ed.), Aux urnes, l’Afrique! Élections et pouvoirs en Afrique noire (Paris: Pedone, 1978); Fred M. Hayward, Elections in Independent Africa (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987); René Otayek (ed.), “Des élections ‘comme les autres’”, Politique africaine, 69, 1998 (special issue); Michael Cowen, Liisa Laakso (eds), Multi-Party Elections in Africa (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002); Patrick Quantin, Voter en Afrique. Comparaisons et différenciations (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2004); Staffan I. Lindberg, Democracy and Elections in Africa (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).
  • [9]
    Amadou Moustapha Diop, “Société manjak et migration”, Ph.D. dissertation, Paris, École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), 1996; François Manchuelle, Les diasporas des travailleurs soninké (1848-1960). Migrants volontaires (Paris: Karthala, 2004) [1st edn 1997]; Jean-Philippe Dedieu, La parole immigrée. Les migrants africains dans l’espace public en France (1960-1995) (Paris: Klincksieck, 2012). For a statistical approach, cf. David Lessault, Cris Beauchemin “Ni invasion, ni exode. Regards statistiques sur les migrations d’Afrique subsaharienne”, Revue européenne des migrations internationales, 25(1), 2009, 163-94; Flore Gubert, Jean-Noël Senne, “Afrique subsaharienne”, in Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques (OCDE [OECD]), Resserrer les liens avec les diasporas. Panorama des compétences des migrants (Paris: Éditions de l’OCDE, 2012), 311-21.
  • [10]
    Cf. Ousmane Kane, The Homeland is the Arena. Religion, Transnationalism and the Integration of Senegalese Immigrants in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). For an overview of African migrations to the United States, cf. Kevin J. A. Thomas, “What explains the increasing trend in African emigration to the U.S.?”, International Migration Review, 45(1), 2011, 3-28; Randy Capps, Kristen McCabe, Michael Fix, New Streams. Black African Migration to the United States (Washington: Migration Policy Institute, 2011).
  • [11]
    Cf. Johnson G. Wesley Jr., The Emergence of Black Politics in Senegal. The Struggle for Power in the Four Communes, 1900-1920 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1971); Mamadou Diouf, “The French colonial policy of assimilation and the civility of the originaires of the Four Communes (Senegal). A nineteenth century globalization project”, Development and Change, 29(4), 1998, 671-96.
  • [12]
    Law supplementing the Electoral Code, adopted by the Republic of Senegal’s National Assembly on 25 August 1992 (National Assembly Archives of the Republic of Senegal, accession number 1B1993).
  • [13]
    Cf. Peggy Levitt, “Social remittances. Migration driven local-level forms of cultural diffusion”, International Migration Review, 32(4), 1998, 926-948.
  • [14]
    The term “grands électeurs” is used by representatives of Senegalese political parties and foreign delegates of the Autonomous National Electoral Commission (Commission électorale nationale autonome – CENA) to describe voters with significant influence over their “community”.
  • [15]
    Cf. the sections focusing on the complex relationships, at times marked by avoidance, between “mainstream” political science and “Africanist” political science in Patrick Quantin, “Pour une analyse comparative des élections africaines”, Politique africaine, 69, 1998, 12-28.
  • [16]
    Momar Coumba Diop, Mamadou Diouf, Aminata Diaw, “Le baobab a été déraciné. L’alternance au Sénégal”, Politique africaine, 78, 2000, 157-79; Tarik Dahou, Vincent Foucher (eds), “Sénégal 2002-2004, l’alternance et ses contradictions”, Politique africaine, 96, 2004 (special issue).
  • [17]
    Linda Beck, Jeffrey Conroy-Krutz, “Senegalese electoral politics: evidence of a serial dominant-party system?”, in Abdoulaye Saine et al. (eds), Elections and Democratization in West Africa (1990-2009) (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2011), 97-122.
  • [18]
    For an analysis of the contribution of the Senegalese diaspora to the power change in 2000, cf. Monika Salzbrunn, “La campagne présidentielle sénégalaise en France”, Hommes et Migrations, 1239, 2002, 49-53; Brandy A. Jones, “Bringing Africa into the study of transnationalism. The Senegalese global nation-state”, Ph.D. dissertation, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, 2007, 131-7.
  • [19]
    Cf. Richard Banégas, “Afrique de l’Ouest. Des crises de la citoyenneté”, Les dossiers du CERI, October 2012.
  • [20]
    On the topic of “civic assimilation”, cf. the classic work by Milton M. Gordon, Assimilation in American Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964).
  • [21]
    Michael Jones-Correa, Between Two Nations. The Political Life of Latin American Immigrants in New York City (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998).
  • [22]
    Alejandro Portes, Rafael Mozo, “The political adaptation process of Cubans and other ethnic minorities in the United States: a preliminary analysis”, International Migration Review, 19(l), 1985, 35-63.
  • [23]
    Bruce E. Cain, D. Roderick Kiewiet, Carole J. Uhlaner, “The acquisition of partisanship by Latinos and Asian Americans”, American Journal of Political Science, 35(2), 1991, 390-422.
  • [24]
    Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, Les immigrés et la politique. Cent cinquante ans d’évolution (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 1988), 9.
  • [25]
    Rémy Leveau, Dominique Schnapper, “Religion et politique. Juifs et musulmans maghrébins en France”, Revue française de science politique, 37(6), 1987, 855-90; Claude Dargent, “Les musulmans déclarés en France: affirmation religieuse, subordination sociale et progressisme politique”, Cahiers du Cevipof. Notes et études de l’OIP, January 2003.
  • [26]
    Anne Muxel, “Les attitudes sociopolitiques des jeunes issus de l’immigration en région parisienne”, Revue française de science politique, 38(5), 1988, 925-40; Jocelyne Césari, “Citoyenneté et acte de vote des individus issus de l’immigration maghrébine. Des stratégies politiques plurielles et contradictoires”, Politix, 22, 1993, 93-103.
  • [27]
    Sylvain Brouard, Vincent Tiberj, Français comme les autres? Enquête sur les Français issus de l’immigration maghrébine, africaine et turque (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2005).
  • [28]
    Linda Basch, Nina Glick Schiller, Cristina Szanton Blanc, Nations Unbound. Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments and Deterritorialized Nation-States (Basel: Gordon and Breach, 1994), 8.
  • [29]
    Luis Eduardo Guarnizo, Alejandro Portes, William Haller, “Assimilation and transnationalism: determinants of transnational political action among contemporary migrants”, American Journal of Sociology, 108(6), 2003, 1211-48.
  • [30]
    For a historical overview, cf. R. C. Smith, “Contradictions of diasporic institutionalization”.
  • [31]
    R. C. Smith, “Contradictions of diasporic institutionalization”, 729.
  • [32]
    Cf. M. Salzbrunn, “La campagne présidentielle sénégalaise en France”; Djnina Ouharzoune, “Pratiques politiques de la communauté algérienne en France. Des revendications nationalistes aux députés de l’émigration”, Ph.D. dissertation, Paris, École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), 2012; Lisa Chauvet, Marion Mercier, “Do return migrants transfer political norms to their origin country? Evidence from Mali”, Paris, DIAL/PSE mimeo, 2013; Jean-Philippe Dedieu, “Mali’s scattered democracy. How migrants from Paris to Guangzhou influence the vote”, Foreign Affairs, 12 August 2013, <>; Thibaut Jaulin, “Les territoires du vote à distance: l’élection tunisienne de 2011 dans les circonscriptions de l’étranger”, Presentation at Sciences Po’s Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (CERI), 9 September 2013.
  • [33]
    Cf. Paolo Boccagni, “Reminiscences, patriotism, participation: approaching external voting in Ecuadorian immigration to Italy”, International Migration, 49(3), 2011, 76-98; Jean-Michel Lafleur, “Why do states enfranchise citizens abroad? Comparative insights from Mexico, Italy and Belgium”, Global Networks, 11(4), 2011, 481-501.
  • [34]
    Vincent Tiberj, Patrick Simon, “La fabrique du citoyen. Origines et rapport au politique en France”, INED working documents, 175, 2012, 31.
  • [35]
    Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch, Cristina Blanc-Szanton (eds), Towards a Transnational Perspective on Migration. Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Nationalism Reconsidered (New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1992).
  • [36]
    Gabriel A. Almond, Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture. Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963).
  • [37]
    Cf. the seminal work done by Daniel Gaxie, Le cens caché. Inégalités culturelles et ségrégation politique (Paris: Seuil, 1978); Pierre Bourdieu, “L’opinion publique n’existe pas”, in Questions de sociologie (Paris: Minuit, 1980), 222-35; Guy Michelat, Michel Simon, “Les sans réponses aux questions politiques: rôles imposés et compensation des handicaps”, L’Année sociologique, 32, 1982, 81-114.
  • [38]
    With regard to these debates, see in particular Gérard Grunberg, Nonna Mayer, Paul N. Sniderman (eds), La démocratie à l’épreuve. Une nouvelle approche de l’opinion des Français (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2002), as well as the articles contributed by Daniel Gaxie, Loïc Blondiaux, Yves Déloye and Alfredo Joignant in the special issue on “political competence” of the Revue française de science politique, 57(6), 2007.
  • [39]
    Luis Eduardo Guarnizo, “The rise of transnational social formations: Mexican and Dominican state responses to transnational migration”, Political Power and Social Theory, 12, 1998, 45-94 (79).
  • [40]
    L. E. Guarnizo, A. Portes, W. Haller, “Assimilation and transnationalism”, 1227.
  • [41]
    L. E. Guarnizo, A. Portes, W. Haller, “Assimilation and transnationalism”, 1229.
  • [42]
    P. Levitt, “Social remittances”, 927.
  • [43]
    P. Levitt, “Social remittances”, 933-6.
  • [44]
    Cf. in particular Philippe Dewitte, Les mouvements nègres en France, 1919-1939 (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1985); Hakim Adi, West Africans in Britain (1900-1960). Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and Communism (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1998); Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora. Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003).
  • [45]
    Jean-Philippe Dedieu, “L’internationalisme ouvrier à l’épreuve des migrations africaines en France”, Critique internationale, 50, 2011, 145-67; Hakim Adi, Pan-Africanism and Communism. The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939 (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2013); Françoise Blum, “Syndicalistes croyants et panafricains. Réseaux des années 1960”, Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire, 119, July-September 2013, 99-112.
  • [46]
    J.-P. Dedieu, La parole immigrée.
  • [47]
    The two other forms of comparison are the linear model, which examines the migratory trajectory from home country to host country, whereas the convergent model investigates differences in national origin by comparing the trajectories of different national groups of migrants residing in a same city or country. On this classification, cf. Samuel L. Baily, “Cross-cultural comparison and the writing of migration history: some thoughts on how to study Italians in the New World”, in Virginia Yans-McLaughlin (ed.), Immigration Reconsidered. History, Sociology, and Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 241-53; Nancy L. Green, Repenser les migrations (Paris: PUF, 2002), 23-35.
  • [48]
    Gérard Noiriel, “Qu’est-ce qu’une communauté immigrée?”, in Pierre Milza, Denis Peschanski (eds), Italiens et Espagnols en France 1938-1946 (Paris: Institut d’histoire du temps présent, 1991), 309-12 (310).
  • [49]
    Cf. in particular Nancy Green, “A French Ellis Island? Museums, memory and history in France and the United States”, History Workshop Journal, 63(1), 2007, 239-53; Donald Horowitz, Gérard Noiriel (eds), Immigrants in Two Democracies. French and American Experience (New York: New York University Press, 1992); Michèle Lamont, The Dignity of Working Men. Morality and the Boundaries of Race, Class and Immigration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000); Daniel Sabbagh, “The rise of indirect affirmative action: converging strategies for promoting ‘diversity’ in selective institutions of higher education in the United States and France”, World Politics, 63(3), 2011, 470-508; Paul Schor, Alexis Spire, “Les statistiques de la population comme construction de la nation”, in Riva Kastoryano (ed.), Les codes de la difference. RaceOrigineReligion. FranceAllemagneÉtats-Unis (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2005), 91-121.
  • [50]
    Cf. Judith Shklar, La citoyenneté américaine. La quête de l’intégration (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1991).
  • [51]
    Patrick Weil, Qu’est-ce qu’un Français? Histoire de la nationalité française depuis la Révolution (Paris: Grasset, 2002).
  • [52]
    A very large bibliography exists on this subject. In particular, cf. Gérard Noiriel, Le creuset français. Histoire de l’immigration 19e-20e siècle (Paris: Seuil, 1988); Aristide R. Zolberg, A Nation by Design. Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press/Russell Sage Foundation, 2006).
  • [53]
    Cf. in particular the comparative study by Pierre Birnbaum, Les deux maisons. Essai sur la citoyenneté des Juifs (en France et aux États-Unis) (Paris: Gallimard, 2012).
  • [54]
    See in particular the seminal work by de Nathan Glazer, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Beyond the Melting Pot. The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1963).
  • [55]
    See Patrick Simon, Angéline Escafré-Dublet, “Représenter la diversité en politique: une reformulation de la dialectique de la différence et de l’égalité par la doxa républicaine”, Raisons politiques, 35(3), 2009, 125-41 (special issue on “Usages de la diversité” edited by Laure Bereni and Alexandre Jaunait); Martina Avanza, Éric Fassin (eds), “Représentants et représentés. Élus de la diversité et minorités visibles”, special issue of the Revue française de science politique, 60(4), 2010.
  • [56]
    Fred Constant, La citoyenneté (Paris: Montchrestien, 2000), 101-11.
  • [57]
    For the first time, a documentary on the Senegalese electoral campaign in France was produced by Ngagne Fall: Sénégal Présidentielle 2012: la bataille de Paris (Paris: Peregrinus Productions, 2012).
  • [58]
    According to the 2000 census in the United States, 70% of the Senegalese population present on American soil in 2000 – or 10,535 individuals – was constituted of migrants who had entered the American territory between 1990 and 2000, notably because of the Diversity Pool Program introduced in the 1990 Immigration Act. Cf. “Table FBP-1. Profile of Selected Demographic and Social Characteristics: 2000. Population Universe: People Born in Senegal”, available at: (accessed 17 November 2012).
  • [59]
    V. Tiberj, P. Simon, “La fabrique du citoyen”, 16-18.
  • [60]
    Xavier Niel, Liliane Lincot, “L’inscription et la participation électorales en 2012. Qui est inscrit et qui vote”, INSEE Première, 1411, September 2012, 3.
  • [61]
    “Reported voting and registration among native and naturalized citizens, by race, Hispanic origin, and region of birth: November 2008”, available at: <> (accessed 16 September 2012).
  • [62]
    Catherine Simpson Bueker, “Political incorporation among immigrants from ten areas of origin: the persistence of source country effects”, International Migration Review, 39(1), 2005, 103-40.
  • [63]
    Cf. R. C. Smith, “Contradictions of diasporic institutionalization”.
  • [64]
    Richard Vengroff, “Senegal: a significant external electorate”, in International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Federal Electoral Institute of Mexico (IFE), Voting from Abroad, 104-7 (106).
  • [65]
    Cf. Séverine Awenengo Dalberto, “De la rue aux urnes: la longue marche de la deuxième alternance au Sénégal”, Les dossiers du CERI, October 2012.
  • [66]
    On the conditions of “transnational African activism”, see Marie-Emmanuelle Pommerolle, Johanna Siméant, “Voix africaines au Forum social mondial de Nairobi. Les chemins transnationaux des militantismes africains”, Cultures & Conflits, 70, 2008, 129-49.
  • [67]
    European Union Election Observation Mission, “Sénégal. Rapport final. Élection présidentielle, 26 février 2012 premier tour – 25 mars 2012 second tour”, Brussels, European Union, 2012, 44-5.
  • [68]
    Cf. our conversations with Kristen McCabe, Associate Policy Analyst in the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).
  • [69]
    CEP, Certificat d’études primaires: Certificate of primary school education, discontinued in 1989.
  • [70]
    National diploma awarded at the end of ninth grade.
  • [71]
    CAP, Certificat d’aptitude professionnelle: Certificate of professional aptitude, awarded on completion of technical and professional studies. BEP, Brevet d’études professionnelles: Certificate of professional studies, required for a professional baccalaureate.
  • [72]
    V. Tiberj, P. Simon, “La fabrique du citoyen”, 19.
  • [73]
    Céline Braconnier, Jean-Yves Dormagen, La démocratie de l’abstention (Paris: Gallimard, 2007) (Folio), 158-9.
  • [74]
    See in particular: Bruce E. Cain, D. Roderick Kiewiet, Carole J. Uhlaner, “The acquisition of partisanship by Latinos and Asian Americans”, American Journal of Political Science, 35(2), 1991, 390-422; Louis DeSipio, Natalie Masuoka, Christopher Stout, “Asian American immigrants as the new electorate: exploring turnout and registration of a growing community”, Asian American Policy Review, 17, 2008, 51-71.
  • [75]
    For an overview of this line of research in electoral sociology, cf. Nonna Mayer, Sociologie des comportements politiques (Paris: Armand Colin, 2011), 120-1.
  • [76]
    In 2007, Wade did in fact carry the vote in both France and the United States, with a level of support close to that which he achieved nationally, but nevertheless much lower – 53.7% and 54% respectively – than in the rest of the diaspora (69.2%).
  • [77]
    See Figure 1 regarding the 2007 election.
  • [78]
    During the 2000 power change-over, the outgoing president Abdou Diouf likewise came in second in France and third in the United States, whereas he was largely in the lead in Senegal (41.3%) and throughout the diaspora (46.9%).
  • [79]
    However, we should note that the diaspora vote in France and the United States does match up quite well with the voting patterns in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, which traditionally votes massively against the outgoing candidate. In the first round of the 2012 election, scores in Dakar city were the following: Sall: 24.7%, Niasse: 22.2%, Wade: 22%. Wade thus came in third, as was the case in the United States. For the Dakar region, the results were the following: Sall: 27%, Wade: 25%, Niasse: 17%. Wade thus came in second, as in France.
  • [80]
    Linda J. Beck, “Autonomous brokers. The Mbëru Gox among the Sénégalais d’Amérique”, in Brokering Democracy in Africa. The Rise of Clientelist Democracy in Senegal (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 197-219.
  • [81]
    In 2012, for example, the candidate Ibrahima Fall, himself a member of the diaspora, won 27% in Canada, 17% in the USA and 10% of the vote in France, compared with 1.8% in Senegal.
  • [82]
    Cf. Table 5.
  • [83]
    Cf. L. J. Beck, “Autonomous brokers”, 204; 215.
  • [84]
    Only by comparing with factors influencing the vote in Senegal, something that is outside the scope of this article, would we be able to potentially identify a “diaspora effect” which produces a “community” vote. In any case, we cannot exclude the possibility of a Klatzmann effect in certain diaspora electoral districts with particularly homogenous communities.
  • [85]
    Guillaume Devin, L’Internationale socialiste. Histoire et sociologie du socialisme international, 1945-1990 (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 1993).Online
  • [86]
    On this topic, cf. Sayad Abdelmalek, “Du message oral au message sur cassette, la communication avec l’absent”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 59, 1985, 61-72.
  • [87]
    Bernard Berelson, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, William N. McPhee, Voting. A Study of Opinion Formation in a Presidential Campaign (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1954).
  • [88]
    Alejandro Portes, “La mondialisation par le bas. L’émergence des communautés transnationales”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 129, 1999, 15-25 (19).
  • [89]
    Jean Schmitz, “Des “aventuriers” aux “notables urbains”: économies morales et communautés transnationales du fleuve Sénégal”, in Jean-François Bayart, Fariba Adelkhah (eds), Anthropologie du voyage et migrations internationales (Paris: FASOPO, 2006), 94-136.
  • [90]
    Luin Goldring, “The power of status in transnational social fields”, in Michael Peter Smith, Luis Eduardo Guarnizo (eds), Transnationalism from Below (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1998) (Comparative Urban and Community Research 6), 165-95 (185).
  • [91]
    1% and 6% of those polled in France and the United States confirmed that they had received voting recommendations from their religious leaders; 1% and 2.5% said they had followed those recommendations. On this trend, see L. J. Beck, “Autonomous brokers”, 211.
  • [92]
    Cf. Philippe de Vreyer, Sylvie Lambert, Abla Safir, Momar Ballé Sylla, “Pauvreté et structure familiale. Pourquoi une nouvelle enquête?”, Statéco, 102, 2008, 5-20.
  • [93]
    Cf. the avenues opened up by the work done by Ilka Vari-Lavoisier, “Le ‘militantisme économique’ des migrants sénégalais: une enquête ‘translocale’”, dissertation currently being supervised by Michel Offerlé and Sylvie Lambert, Paris, École normale supérieure (ENS).
  • [94]
    Stéphane Dufoix, Politiques d’exil. Hongrois, Polonais et Tchécoslovaques en France après 1945 (Paris: PUF, 2002), 28.
  • [95]
    R. Otayek (ed.), “Des élections ‘comme les autres’”.
  • [96]
    Jean-François Bayart, “L’Afrique dans le monde: une histoire d’extraversion”, Critique internationale, 5, 1999, 97-120.
  • [97]
    Jean-François Bayart, L’État en Afrique (Paris: Fayard, 1989), 241-56.
  • [98]
    Yossi Shain, “Diasporas and international relations theory”, in Kinship and Diasporas in International Affairs (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), 127-54.
  • [99]
    For the help we received throughout our research, we would like to thank: Mamadou Diouf, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Alioune Badara Dia and Rosalind Fredericks (Columbia University), as well as Kristen McCabe (Migration Policy Institute) for the American section; Badou Gaye and Pathia Thiam (DECENA Paris), as well as Étienne Jezioro (EHESS) and Xavier Niel (Insee) for the French section. We are also grateful for the insightful comments provided by Cyril Lemieux, Marion Mercier and Johanna Siméant, as well as by the anonymous reviewers of the Revue française de science politique on a preliminary version of this article. Revised versions of this article have been presented during the international conferences organised by the Institut national d’études démographiques (INED) in December 2012 in Paris, by University College London (UCL) in April 2013 in London, and by the European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) in June 2013 in Lisbon. The results which led to those presented here benefited from the financial support of the Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR) pursuant to the decision no ANR-2011-BSH1 012-03 to award a grant to the research project “POLECOMI: économie politique de la migration internationale et de ses effets sur les pays d’origine. Analyse du Sénégal et du Mali” [“POLECOMI: Economic politics of international migration and its effects on home countries. Analysis of Senegal and Mali”]. The programme is coordinated by the joint research unit Développement, institutions et mondialisation (DIAL – Development, Institutions and Globalisation) at the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) and the Université Paris Dauphine, in partnership with the Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux sociaux (Iris) and the Centre Maurice-Halbwachs (CMH) of the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) which were, for the purposes of the present study, associated with the Institute of African Studies (IAS) at Columbia University.
  • [100]
    Cf. George E. Marcus’ seminal text, “Ethnography in/of the world system: the emergence of multi-sited ethnography”, Annual Review of Anthropology, 24, 1995, 95-117. For a future-oriented study, cf. Johanna Siméant, “Localiser le terrain de l’international”, Politix, 100, 2012, 129-47.
  • [101]
    Mohamed Berriane, Hein de Haas, “Introduction: new questions for innovative migration research”, in M. Berriane, H. de Haas (eds), African Migrations Research. Innovative Methods and Methodologies (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2012), 1-14 (3).
  • [102]
    Shanta Devarajan, “Africa’s statistical tragedy”, Review of Income and Wealth (forthcoming).
  • [103]
    These are: the MIDDAS project (“Migrations internationales et développement: analyse sur données appariées migrants-familles d’origine au Sénégal”) and the POLECOMI project (“Économie politique de la migration internationale et de ses effets sur les pays d’origine. Analyse du Sénégal et du Mali”), both financed by the Agence nationale pour la recherche. For more information on these two projects, cf. <>.
  • [104]
    Cf. our e-mail correspondence in February 2012 with the National Polling Committee of the Republic of Senegal.

Dual nationality and citizenship and external voting rights have been granted by a majority of countries in recent years. This article uses original data, collected through a multi-site survey among Senegalese migrants living in France and in the United States during the first round of Senegal’s 2012 presidential election, to analyse the electoral behaviour of these migrants, and social remittances between destination and origin countries. Senegalese migrants are found to be strongly associated with a high level of electoral participation, not only in their origin country but also in their host country for those with dual citizenship. Our data also reveal a large range of social remittances between destination and origin countries, which translate into voting recommendations whose influence is particularly marked when directed towards Senegal.

Jean-Philippe Dedieu
A former Fulbright Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Jean-Philippe Dedieu holds a degree from the École supérieure des sciences économiques et commerciales (ESSEC) and a doctorate in sociology from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS). Both a historian and a sociologist, he works at the EHESS’s Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux sociaux (Iris) and at the DIAL laboratory of the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD). He works on international migration, transnational electoral processes, and ethnic and racial discrimination. He has published articles in African Issues, Critique internationale, Ethnologie française, Droit & Société, Foreign Affairs, Genèses, Plein droit and Politique étrangère. In addition to his collaboration with the Dictionary of African Biography edited by Henry Louis Gates and Emmanuel K. Akyeampong (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), he recently published La parole immigrée. Les migrants africains dans l’espace public en France, 1960–1995 (Paris: Klincksieck/Les Belles Lettres, 2012). In 2013, he was one of the researchers invited by the Mission d’information sur les immigrés âgés created by the Conférence des présidents de l’Assemblée nationale to retrace the history of immigration policies. (Iris, EHESS, 190 avenue de France, 75244 Paris cedex 13, <>)
Lisa Chauvet
Lisa Chauvet is a research fellow in economics at the IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement) within the DIAL (Développement, institutions et mondialisation), at UMR IRD-Université Paris Dauphine. She works on the political economy of development. In particular, she has studied the relationships between official development assistance, socio-political instability and the fragility of developing countries. More recently, she has begun to examine the political impact of migration on countries of origin. She has published articles in the Journal of Development Studies, Economic Policy, Conflict Management and Peace Science, the European Journal of Political Economy and the Review of Development Economics. She recently co-authored a chapter with Flore Gubert and Sandrine Mesplé-Somps on the relationships between financial remittances, ideals and development in Mali titled “Émigrations et démocratisation”, in Patrick Gonin, Nathalie Kotlok, Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos (eds), La tragédie malienne (Paris: Vendémiaire, 2013), 227-46 (<>)
Flore Gubert
Flore Gubert holds a doctorate in economics and is a research fellow with the DIAL laboratory at the IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement) and also affiliated with the Paris School of Economics. Much of her work focuses on the consequences of international migration for countries of origin. She coordinated an important research project on Senegalese migrants in France, Italy, Côte d’Ivoire and Mauritania (the MIDDAS project: “Migrations internationales et développement: une analyse à partir de données appariées portant sur le Sénégal”) and has recently published: (with Isabelle Chort and Jean-Noël Senne) “Migrant networks as a basis for social control: remittance incentives among Senegalese in France and Italy”, Regional Science and Urban Economics, 42(5), 2012, 858-74; (with Philippe de Vreyer and François Roubaud) “Why do migrants migrate? Self-selection and returns to education in West Africa”, 301-24; and (with Philippe de Vreyer and Anne-Sophie Robilliard) “Returns to returning in West Africa”, 325-46, in Philippe de Vreyer, François Roubaud (eds), Urban Labor Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa (Washington: AFD-IRD-World Bank, 2013) (<>)
Sandrine Mesplé-Somps
Sandrine Mesplé-Somps is a research fellow in economics at the IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement) within the DIAL laboratory (Développement, Institutions et mondialisation), at UMR IRD-Université Paris Dauphine. She works on issues of poverty, inequality, public policy and the impact of migration on countries of origin. She has most recently published (with Lisa Chauvet and Flore Gubert) “Aid, remittances, medical brain drain and child mortality: evidence using inter and intracountry data”, Journal of Development Studies, 49(6), 2013, 801-18; (with Denis Cogneau and Gilles Spielvogel) “Development at the border. Policies and national integration in Côte d’Ivoire and its neighbors”, World Bank Economic Review, 6626, 2013, 1-31; (with Anne-Sophie Robilliard) “Croissance partagée? Évolution de l’emploi et des indicateurs de pauvreté non monétaires au Sénégal, 2001–2005”, in Momar-Coumba Diop (ed.), Sénégal (2000–2012). Les institutions et politiques publiques à l’épreuve d’une gouvernance (Paris/Dakar: CRES/Karthala, 2013), 269-94; and (with Lisa Chauvet and Flore Gubert) “Émigrations et démocratisation”, in Patrick Gonin, Nathalie Kotlok, Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos (eds), La tragédie malienne (Paris: Vendémiaire, 2013), 227-46 (<>)
Étienne Smith
Étienne Smith holds a doctorate in political science from Sciences Po and was a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought (during 2010–2012). He works on issues of state building, national imaginaries and Senegalese elections. In particular, he is the author of: L’Afrique: histoire et défis (Paris: Ellipses, 2009); “Merging ethnic histories in Senegal: whose moral community?”, in Derek Peterson, Giacomo Macola (eds), Recasting the Past. History Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009), 213-32; “La nationalisation par le bas: la wolofisation au Sénégal”, Raisons politiques, 37, 2010, 65-77; “Congo’s agonies”, New Left Review, 67, 2011, 145-54; “‘Senghor voulait qu’on soit tous des Senghor’: parcours nostalgiques d’une génération de lettrés entre mémoire scolaire et terroirs imaginés”, Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire, 118, April–June 2013, 87-100 (<>)
Translated from French by
Sarah-Louise Raillard
Latest publication on cairn or another partner portal
Uploaded on on 29/07/2014
Distribution électronique pour Presses de Sciences Po © Presses de Sciences Po. Tous droits réservés pour tous pays. Il est interdit, sauf accord préalable et écrit de l’éditeur, de reproduire (notamment par photocopie) partiellement ou totalement le présent article, de le stocker dans une banque de données ou de le communiquer au public sous quelque forme et de quelque manière que ce soit.
Loading... Please wait