(Dis)trusting the citizen: Historical debates on the expansion of suffrage in the Netherlands

Although democracies are currently faced with growing popular distrust, whereby citizens wonder whether they can entrust politicians with the responsibility to represent their interests, this paper deals with an opposite dynamic, namely the distrust of governments toward their citizens. More specifically, this paper seeks to examine to what extent concepts like ‘trust’ and ‘distrust’ in the institution of citizenship have shaped the democratization of the parliamentary system in the Netherlands, focusing on the democratization of the parliamentary system in the Netherlands by looking at parliamentary debates on the expansion of suffrage in the period between 1869 and 1983. It is only since the constitutional revision of 1983 that the Constitution of the Netherlands explicitly acknowledges suffrage as a civil right. Even after the introduction of universal suffrage, this consideration continued to serve as an argument for or against lowering the voting age of citizens.


Direct democracy is frequently opposed to representation as being an expression of an undivided popular will. Framed by forms of direct decision-making, citizenship is seen as an antecedent and for the most part separate issue. In other words, the eligible demos must be defined before direct democracy is invoked. In this paper, I want to provide an alternative perspective by examining forms of direct democracy as instruments of defining the political dimensions of citizenship. I first show how direct democracy involves different forms of representation, more specifically representation as an argument, process and construct. I then proceed to situate this framework in Croatia, showing how the growing reliance on direct democracy affirmed only some forms of representation. In the process, the political dimension of citizenship was not strengthened, but was instrumentalised in a way that disempowers the Croatian demos.

Double Standards Mistrust against naturalised citizens using the example of Austria

This paper postulates that equality and freedom can be seen as the theoretical foundations of constitutional democracies. Against that backdrop, it intends to analyse the legal norms and both their application and their impact in practice, which distinguish citizens by descent from citizens by naturalisation. The main focus of the paper lies on the Austrian legal system but developments in other European jurisdictions such as the UK or Germany as well as European Union law, especially the jurisdiction of the ECJ, will also dealed with. Based on recent judgments and legal developments, this contribution aims to analyse how national citizenship laws reflect mistrust against foreign born citizens even after naturalisation. The analysis will show that certain legal distinctions expose double standards which can lead to the development of “second class citizens”.

Global North, Global South and citizenship dis/trust

The multiplicity of non-hegemonic elements that act in the construction of distrusted South-of-the-Globe citizenry can be traced back to historical colonial oppression and to the construction of orientalisms and, why not, ‘meridionalisms’ that build two different hemispheres of rights and rightful governance. With the politization and legalisation of social phenomena such as migration, security, and ‘multiculturalism’ other pathways for the imposition of the colonial-like rules are generated by praxis of mistrust and alterity that are connected to the presence and activity of untrustworthy and half-citizens, the ones that despite being nationals do not belong.
Taking into consideration the secutirary praxis of the national administration in neutralising untrustworthy demos, this paper will focus on the analysis of British legal praxis when it comes to the deprivation of nationality, right of abode and settlement of borderline citizens.

Statelessness and Mass Atrocities: Cases for Concern

This paper will focus on how statelessness is the harbinger of mass atrocity crimes, namely genocide and crimes against humanity. In line with the panel's theme – the revocation of citizenship has caused distrust to develop and deepen divisions within society because governments have successfully been able to create “foreigners” as a result of statelessness. These labels have allowed ostracization of minority groups, which in turn have fueled violence against these particular groups. The presenter will focus on three case studies, the Rohingya of Burma, the people of Assam, India, and the Moken of Thailand and Burma. Statelessness in these instances have allowed perpetrators of mass atrocities to commit crimes, with impunity, and undetected many times. Despite the two international conventions dedicated to statelessness, this presentation will delve why citizenship is the key to providing protections for vulnerable groups from mass atrocities.

Trusting in constitutional citizenship

The paper will scope out the idea of 'constitutional citizenship', highlighting the extent to which it relies on or challenges concepts of dis/trust. Articulating a concept of constitutional citizenship is not a mere descriptive enterprise, but involves ethical choices about matters of inclusion and exclusion. In that context, highlighting the distributional, social and political effects of citizenship attribution is an important part of the task. States frequently laud the idea of citizenship in theory, but undermine its practice in reality. This paper will probe the space between these two ideas, and show that citizenship remains central to understanding modern constitutional set-ups.