One woman, two votes

by Ingrid Robeyns on October 13, 2013

I became a Dutch citizen earlier this year. That is, I became a Dutch citizen given the definition of ‘citizen’ that most political scientists would use – someone with full political rights, including the right to vote and the right to stand for election. The process was partly Kafkaesque – perhaps I’ll tell you some more about that another time.

The reason I wanted Dutch citizenship is that I want to be able to vote in the country in which I live, in which I plan to stay, in which my children grow up, in which I work, in which I pay taxes, and – perhaps the most important – where I care a lot about how institutions are being redesigned and policies implemented. The reason I didn’t apply for Dutch citizenship earlier on, is that it has only recently become possible for me to acquire Dutch citizenship without losing my Belgian citizenship. And I didn’t want to give up Belgian citizenship, since at the ‘personal identity’ level it feels like a denial of part of oneself if one has to give up the nationality that has shaped the person one has become. I think people should be able to hold two passports since one’s nationality does not only reflect which political community one regards oneself most engaged with, but also one’s identity at a deeper level – whatever one prefers to call this – the psychological level or related to one’s personal self-narrative, or something similar.

But now I am in this remarkable position to be a person with two votes. I can vote for the national and regional elections in Belgium, and for local, national and European elections in the Netherlands. Isn’t this a violation of the deep democratic principle we all know by the slogan ‘one man, one vote’? Some friends have suggested that there is nothing wrong with having two votes, since after all one has ties with both countries. But that doesn’t seem quite right to me, since it would still mean that one person overall has greater political power than their co-citizens.

So I guess my position is this: Two passports: fine. Two votes: not OK. We should have a set of rules such that those of us who hold two passports should prioritise them: the first one gives one all the rights of all other citizens, and the second one gives one all the rights of the citizens except the right to vote.

{ 44 comments }

1

Agog 10.13.13 at 7:48 pm

I have had dual nationalities almost all my life, but have only ever voted in one of those countries – the one in which I live. If I had slightly stronger ties in the other place, like living in it for part of the year, I would not have any qualms about voting there too.

2

NomadUK 10.13.13 at 8:13 pm

I hold dual US/UK citizenship. I was born with the first, and I acquired the second, having spent a lot of time, energy, and money to obtain it. I pay taxes in one, and avoid paying in the other by dint of treaty and because I don’t earn enough to put me over the limit specified in said treaty.

I vote in both, with no qualms whatsoever. I have the right — and, I think, the obligation — to do so. The decisions made by politicians in my birth country affect (unfortunately) the entire planet, and any little thing I can do to influence that, I feel I should do. Also, I — and perhaps someday my children or their children — will very likely wind up returning to it sometime, and I see no reason I shouldn’t try to have some small (read: virtually irrelevant, but what the hell) effect on its government in the meantime. If I leave the UK, I will continue to follow its politics and will, as and when possible, vote. It’s a part of me now, and I don’t see any reason to give that up just because of my geographic location.

3

Thomas Lumley 10.13.13 at 8:14 pm

In New Zealand, all permanent residents can vote (and must register to vote). I believe that a lot of Commonwealth countries allowed British Subjects who were residents to vote — eg, my parents, who were British citizens were able to vote in Australia. So it’s a bit more complicated than citizenship.

Like Agog, I have dual nationalities. I don’t vote in either of the countries where I’m a citizen, only in New Zealand, where I live. If I lived in more than one country (in any meaningful sense) I’d want to vote in more than one country.

4

James 10.13.13 at 8:25 pm

I’m unclear what the problem is here. “One man, one vote” is an adage we use in the context of “one country.” In either country (Belgium or the Netherlands) you have one vote, because you’re one person. How is this undemocratic? I belong to several organizations that are run democratically. In each, I have one vote. The fact that I belong to one (a labor union) doesn’t mean that it’s undemocratic that I have another vote in a separate organization (a professional organization), even though some members of the union only have one vote (period) because they don’t belong to other organizations. Who is supposed to be wronged here?

5

mpowell 10.13.13 at 8:36 pm

James @ 4: Would it be okay if certain Americans were able to vote in two different states? At least to me, it is quite obvious that this would be undemocratic. Even if you could only vote for state level politicians in each jurisdiction, state level officials have the opportunity to impact federal policy in a variety of ways.

I think the question here is whether the countries in question are part of a larger political union (like the EU) and how national level policy interacts with EU level policy. But also, I think there is a question of whether it is unethical to vote twice, even if you think that it is unjust that some people (yourself included) have two votes. Perhaps this is not the same thing, but imagine men received two votes and women received one. Would it be unethical, as a man, to vote twice in attempt to advance your preferred policy which includes, among other things, a one person one vote policy? I think it would obviously not be in this case at least.

6

Omega Centauri 10.13.13 at 8:44 pm

mpowell, being able to vote in two us states, if it entails voting for national bodies like hose/senate/president. In her case the equivalent would be having two votes for the EU, but she only claims to have one.

In the US the value of your vote varies dramatically by jurisdiction. A Senator from the most populous state of California has no more power than one from Wyoming, despite representing fifty time as many people. And residents in the capital DC, don’t have a senator, and their lone congressperson IIRC has observor status only. And of course in our virtual two party system, only the votes in swing states (which could go to either party) are sought after.

7

Random Lurker 10.13.13 at 9:02 pm

@Omega Centauri
The “government” of the EU is the european council, that is composed by the premiers of the singular EU countries.
As a consequence if one votes in two countries for the premier, he/she does indeed weight twice on the european council, even if he/she has only one vote for the (less relevant) european parliament.

8

PatrickfromIowa 10.13.13 at 9:55 pm

US/Canada dual citizen, here. I’d vote in a Canadian election if they allowed ex-pats to cast an absentee ballot, but the last time I looked, they didn’t.

In the US I have proved to the satsfaction of Iowa I reside here, and no other state. So here is where I happily vote. I’ll hang on to the privilege as long as it’s legal, because Steve King.

I believe you can follow the rules of your two nations to the letter and be okay. Lots of people vote who are too stupid or too interested or too brainwashed to do so ethically. Your scruples suggest to me your participation would be a net gain to each country.

9

Ingrid Robeyns 10.13.13 at 10:04 pm

This is helpful. So we can consider two cases: Case 1 where the two citizenships are politically closely related (as in my actual case via the EU) and Case 2 where the two citizenships are not politically closely connected (say: a Belgian and a South-African citizenship). In both cases would I believe that there is something wrong with being able to vote in both countries. However, I would gladly be proven wrong and accept that this belief is mistaken. But I’ll have to think about the arguments offered so far, I am not quite ready to accept them (James @ 4: I am not sure whether the parallel with organizations works, since it is extremely hard to become a citizen of a country in most cases, whereas most organizations one can join or else their decisions only affect their members).

10

Mark 10.13.13 at 10:34 pm

Aren’t you legally required to vote as a Belgian citizen? I’d say that should resolve the ethical quandary for you. Vote in NL because you want to and in Belgium because you have to.

Of course that doesn’t speak to the general case.

11

maidhc 10.13.13 at 11:19 pm

In many countries with a parliamentary system, you have to reside in some electoral district in order to vote for your particular member of Parliament, because you don’t vote for the Prime Minister directly. Canada is like this. You can make arrangements to vote if you’re going to be temporarily out of the country, but if you reside permanently in another country you can’t vote.

For Australian ex-pats, electoral law prevents Australian citizens who are overseas from enrolling to vote if it is more than three years since they left Australia to live abroad.

The US allows citizens living overseas to vote, but Americans don’t vote for the President directly either – they vote for the electors of their state. You can maintain voter registration in your last state of residence. That’s for federal elections, but only some states will allow you to vote in state and local elections. American citizens who have never lived in the US can inherit the right to vote from their parents in 21 states.

I don’t see Ingrid’s case as having two votes. She has only one vote in a European election. For national elections, it’s up to each country to decide on the rules for who gets to vote.

12

Katherine 10.14.13 at 12:30 am

When I was a student, we were informed that we could vote in local elections both where we were at university and where we resided outside of term. We were not however allowed to do so for national elections.

13

stubydoo 10.14.13 at 2:26 am

A fair system would be one in which every multi-jurisdiction voter gets a percentage of a full vote in each jurisdiction, with the percentages adding to 100%. The percentage calculation could be some formula like time spent in each jurisdiction, or perhaps the voter could just choose, but tbey shouldn’t be allowed to change for every election, as they’d opportunisically overweight each time they happen to be a swing voter and end up being effectively overrepresented.

(I live and vote in the USA, and don’t bother voting in the other country where I’m allowed to – I find myself unable to be well informed enough to choose the candidates there who best reflect my policy preferences. I guess you could say I’m faithfully following my weighting scheme idea, with a 100% USA weight)

14

UserGoogol 10.14.13 at 2:58 am

It depends on what you think the purpose of democracy is, I suppose. My stance is that the point of democracy is that governments should take into account the interests of all people with a stake in the policy of that government, and citizenship is a (imperfect) way of categorizing those people. Since you have a stake in both countries, it makes sense that you should be able to vote in deciding the policies of both countries, although you might ask whether as a person living in the Netherlands you have enough of a stake for your opinion to be worth counting in deciding how Belgium should be run. But if you genuinely have an interest in both countries, then I don’t see why the governments shouldn’t accommodate your interests.

15

Saul 10.14.13 at 3:15 am

The Italian Parliament has what appears to be a remarkably inclusive approach to this problem; reserved seats for those spread around the world of Italian citizenship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_constituencies_of_the_Parliament_of_Italy

16

Chris Mealy 10.14.13 at 3:45 am

Ingrid, who are you supporting in Dutch politics?

17

Blanche Davidian 10.14.13 at 3:54 am

Well section one of the 14th Amendment appears to preclude multiple state voting: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
I’d say an equitable argument for voting in multiple states could be made on the basis of taxation by two sovereigns. Should a person have the right to vote in any state which taxes their property, whether real or personal? Have we accepted the notion that to be taxed implies participation in the government of the taxing sovereign through representation in its legislature?
Of course this would favor people who can afford to own property in numerous jurisdictions, and is antithetical to our democratic urges.
So do we consider voting now just a nobler species of selecting your favorite performer on American Idol?

18

between4walls 10.14.13 at 4:04 am

I’m a US/Italian dual citizen (having held both since birth) and don’t see the issue with voting in both countries. Especially since in Italy, voting is a duty as much as a right. (And Italy goes to great lengths to facilitate voting abroad, which I appreciate).

To me citizenship=the right to vote. I know other aspects like residency or identity might be more important to other people, but to me it means the right to participate in the civic life of a community and help decide its governance, to be part of the “people” to whom sovereignty belongs. So having a passport with no right to vote would be a mere mockery of citizenship.

There would be more of an issue if you could vote in the Euro elections twice, but since you don’t have multiple votes in any election, I don’t think it violates the “one man, one vote” principle.

19

Philosofatty 10.14.13 at 5:00 am

But isn’t a vote also, ideally, a burden of good citizenship you take on in exchange for that citizenship? Becoming a citizen of A, you are entitled to vote in A, and also harnessed with this minimal in principle responsibility of participating in A’s civic project to the best of your conscience and intelligence. It’s something you ought to do. Likewise B. Of course you could dual vote to systematically sabotage A’s interests against B’s, but your citizenship involves a promise not to do that kind of thing.

20

Mao Cheng Ji 10.14.13 at 8:24 am

The US taxes you on your worldwide income, no matter where you live. So, you bet the US expats should be able to vote there. Even though it’s useless anyway.

21

Britta 10.14.13 at 8:25 am

I would agree with James. The principle of “one person one vote” is a means to prevent some people’s clout from undemocratically influencing the outcome of a particular election. However, in any particular election, you only get one vote, therefore the principle is not being violated. If you were allowed two votes for European elections, which would be violating the principle, but that appears not to be the case. Perhaps you should think of this in terms of time instead of space: at any one time you go to the ballot box (or in any one period of time that voting occurs), you only cast one vote. Because you have dual citizenship you must vote more frequently, but you don’t cast more votes in any one particular election. Morally, it also seems fine to me. Voting is a right, a privilege, and a responsibility of a citizen, and it makes sense that as a citizen of two countries, your rights and responsibilities are in some absolute sense (though not relative sense) greater.

22

Phil 10.14.13 at 9:03 am

Irish people living in Britain have always been able to apply to vote here (because they live here) and in Ireland (because they’re Irish). I don’t see why dual nationality shouldn’t mean having two votes at the national level(s), for as long as democratic nation states give the vote to citizens both by birth and by adoption (and I don’t see why they shouldn’t carry on doing that). This also explains the single EU vote – Ingrid inherits EU citizenship from either Belgian or Dutch citizenship, but it’s a binary condition, so she can’t inherit it twice.

The US state counter-example is interesting – particularly given the EU’s putative superstate ambitions/tendencies – but I think it’s a red herring, unless native-born Kentuckians residing in Maine can in fact apply for a postal vote based on their place of birth. (Don’t know where those two states floated up from – I feel for any native-born Kentuckian residing in Maine.)

23

ajay 10.14.13 at 9:03 am

Also agreeing. It isn’t breaking the principle because you only have one vote in any given contest.
Even without dual citizenship, I could vote in local, national and EU elections; I could vote in elections in my local trade union branch; I might be able to vote to pick one prospective parliamentary candidate over another, if I were a member of a political party, which means I could vote twice for the same person in two different contests; I would also be able to vote for one party leadership candidate over another when there was a leadership contest. If I worked for the Co-op, I could vote for my boss!

24

Random Lurker 10.14.13 at 9:28 am

I think that there is a distinction to be made in regard to the “moral imperative” to vote or not vote in two different nations.
Ideally, a democratic government uses election as a way to gauge citiziens’ preferencies, and as a consequence it would be a good idea to have a “one head, one vote” principle.
However, as Omega Centauri noted, this doesn’t always happen; for example “In the US the value of your vote varies dramatically by jurisdiction”; in the case of the european council, this is even worse: in the council each nation is represented by one premier, even if Germany is, for example, 8 times bigger than Greece; then it is not obvious how the council reaches its conclusion, it seems that Germany actually weights much more than Greece, but informally and in a really fuzzy way.
This is however responsibility of the state that has a crappy voting system, not of the singular citizien, who might happen to have more voting weight than others.
From the point of view of the citizien, the only moral imperative is to vote for (what he/she perceives to be) the best policy overall; for example, suppose that I strongly dislike the policies of X, that I believe will only cause sorrow, and I can vote twice against it; if I don’t vote twice against X I’m going against the moral imperative of avoiding sorrow to my fellow citiziens.

So I think one can relly think that “double vote” is unjust and at the same time make use of it, in the same way one might think that taxes should be higer, but doesn’t feel compelled to donate money to the state if the tax rate is, in his/her opinion, too low.

25

nick s 10.14.13 at 12:17 pm

From the moral perspective, I think there’s an argument for strong residency and weak citizenship requirements for municipal and local elections, which creates the potential to vote in different countries on different levels.

UK expats may be courted when retired to the Costa del Sanatogen, but they generally have little influence as voters on UK immigration policies that affect their willingness to return. In that regard, I sort of like the French model there, where there are districts in the National Assembly specifically for citizens abroad.

26

MattF 10.14.13 at 1:29 pm

I think there are really three ‘persons’ here– a specific member of the species homo sapiens, named ‘Ingrid’ who controls two additional, artificial beings, ‘Ingrid-B’, and ‘Ingrid-D’. ‘Ingrid-B’ and ‘Ingrid-D’ came into existence through specific circumstances and through specific acts of ‘Ingrid’. Peculiar, yes, but so what?

27

Ingrid Robeyns 10.14.13 at 2:41 pm

I think I’m inclined to agree with the arguments by UserGoogol (#14): if the governments for which you can vote affect your life in some way, then you should be entitled to vote form them. So if your life is affected in some minimally significant way by the governments of two countries, then you are morally allowed to vote in both. I can see the force of that argument.

I don’t know enough about State-level legislation and policy making in the US, but wonder whether that would mean that, if we were to describe to the above ‘grounding’ for the moral right to vote, that some American citizens should in fact be able to vote in two states.

28

EthanC 10.14.13 at 3:46 pm

@27: “if we were to describe to the above ‘grounding’ for the moral right to vote, that some American citizens should in fact be able to vote in two states.” This immediately put me in mind of this study saying polluters like to use state lines to shield themselves from democratic accountability on the state level, and this court case that has so far prevented the federal government from doing anything about it. In theory the federal government should keep (e.g.) New York from polluting Pennsylvania, but with this Supreme Court who knows.

29

mpowell 10.14.13 at 6:08 pm

I agree with Random Lurker @ 24’s argument, which I hinted at earlier. It seems that the ethical responsibility of the citizen should be to advance policy that you think is best. And it is quite common for voting systems to unequally weight different citizen’s vote. What is so different about having votes in multiple jurisdictions? But maybe my feeling comes from residing in the US where the badness of a certain party achieving higher office seems clearly to be a greater problem than some hypothetical circumstance where I legally exercise the opportunity to vote twice.

30

Chaz 10.14.13 at 7:43 pm

The “taxation without representation” slogan is morally repugnant. I know you guys mean well but just think about it for a moment. It basically says that if you’re rich you should get a say, and if you’re poor your opinion doesn’t matter.

Americans with no income do not pay federal taxes; does that mean they’re less entitled to vote than the “hard working Americans”? Meanwhile, if Toshiba Corporation has a sales office in Oregon they will pay property and corporate income taxes to Oregon and to the US. Does anyone think Toshiba Corporation should be entitled to vote in Oregon and US elections? Should every Toshiba stockholder–as owners of US property and payers of US taxes–get a vote in US elections? No! Or maybe you think Toshiba’s US operations should be tax exempt, or pay taxes to Japan? I’m going with no on that too. Taxation and political rights have nothing to do with each other. A form of the doctrine was applied in both Britain and the independent USA. For many years in both countries people were only eligible to vote if they owned a large amount of property. And of course that’s how the Ancient Greeks and Romans did it. These laws were eventually changed in all of the above countries because they are fundamentally undemocratic.

Relatedly, I would like to remind everyone that just because a slogan was uttered during the US War of Independence does not mean that Americans should adopt it as a doctrine. Particularly ones that were initiated by proto-Norquistites who didn’t want to pay any taxes. People were hopping mad when King George forbade them from stealing Indian land west of the Appalachians, but personally I think Georgie had it right.

I also agree with Lurker that whatever Ingrid & company think philosophically, they have a moral obligation to vote as much as possible simply to try to elect people who will do good. In the unusual case that you consider yourself incompetent and likely to vote for the wrong person, then you have an obligation not to vote at all.

31

GiT 10.14.13 at 8:42 pm

“No taxation without representation” is not equivalent to, nor does it imply, “no representation without taxation.”

The principle that if a government is going to take some of your money affords you some say in what they do doesn’t mean that you should only have a say in government if they are taking your money. Of course, with widespread property and taxation qualifications on voting in most states at the founding demonstrate that “no representation without taxation” was also something people believed (and no doubt many conservatives still believe it). But “no representation without taxation” was never a slogan.

32

stubydoo 10.14.13 at 11:01 pm

Does anyone out there know what happens if you were to rent apartments in all 50 states of the USA, pay the electric bills for all of them in your own name, then attempt to cast mail-in ballots for 50 different gubernatorial candidates? or for the same presidential candidate 50 times?

33

godoggo 10.14.13 at 11:35 pm

I’ll just say my sense this sort of thing is probably much less of a problem than exploitation of the idea to intimidate legitimate voters.

Probably not a clever answer, though. Literal, though. As always.

34

Chaz 10.14.13 at 11:52 pm

GiT,

Even if it’s a valid concept in a very narrow way (though there’s still the question of taxed foreigners), I still find the focus on taxation extremely pernicious. How about no arrests without representation, no laws without representation, no system of property rights which gives economic and social disadvantages to certain people without representation. I can see the question of whether you have a stake in the country, but paying tax is not even close to the most important stake people have in a government. People should say something like, “No authority without representation.”

35

godoggo 10.15.13 at 12:17 am

Shit, if I make a meta comment you freak. If I just comment in earnest you freak. But I there’s a reason I don’t engage in that kind of “communication,” and that’s because it’s so very very stupid, as the results of it show.

36

godoggo 10.15.13 at 12:19 am

Oh, I forgot one: if I ignore you, you freak.

37

Chaz 10.15.13 at 12:22 am

On Ingrid’s topic,

Like some others have suggested, to me it’s not really a question of whether Ingrid should have two votes. There are two separate questions: Should Ingrid have a vote in Belgium, even though she won’t have to live with (many of) the consequences of her vote? Should Ingrid have a vote in the Netherlands, even though she is less tied to/committed to/trapped in the Netherlands than most citizens are (since she can flee to Belgium at will)? Governments have historically been concerned that dual citizens would not be fully loyal to their adopted country, and insisted that prospective citizens prove their loyalty (alternatively, commit themselves by burning their bridges) by renouncing the old citizenship.

When you restate it as a separate question for each country then it seems to make sense for each country to decide separately through law. The drawback with that is that if both countries adopted narrow eligibility Ingrid could hypothetically find herself unable to vote anywhere, which would be a shame.

I think the fairest answer is basically what stubydoo said. If your loyalties and interests are split then it makes sense for your vote to be split in proportion. And you could argue that Greeks have an interest in German elections, and half the world has an interest in US elections. Give them 1/10 of a vote! . . . Possibly impractical.

38

Mao Cheng Ji 10.15.13 at 12:48 pm

“though there’s still the question of taxed foreigners”

There is no question of taxed foreigners, because foreigners are only taxed when they chose to participate in your economy. Toshiba Corporation, in your example, could stay away from the US market, and then no one would’ve ever suggested that the US can tax it.

A US citizen living and working in Japan, on the other hand, is taxed by the US government all the same, on all her income, even if she has no connection to the US whatsoever. She may not even be aware of being a US citizen, and yet she is still liable. Not only to pay, but also to inform the treasury, annually, of all the details of all her bank accounts, and valuables in her possession. Afaik, that’s a unique situation; the US is the only country that does this. Surely this person should have the right to vote in the US? What does it have to do with rich and poor?

39

ajay 10.15.13 at 1:37 pm

38.1: not true any more, not since the passage of FATCA. A French-owned French bank that chooses only to do business with French people in France could still find itself (indirectly) being taxed by the US government through the 30% withholding requirement.

40

Benquo 10.15.13 at 2:36 pm

27: Wouldn’t that imply that you should be able to vote in any election anywhere?

I’m not sure that would be a bad thing, either.

41

Trader Joe 10.15.13 at 3:07 pm

@32
One of the questions asked on the voter registration forms (and which is supposed to be asked for in-person registration) is whether you are currently registered to vote in any other jurisdiction than the one you currently registering for – if you answer yes, you’re supposed to list them.

If you’re prepared to pujure yourself on 49 of the 50 examples, you might could get away with what you describe – I’m not really sure what sort of cross checks are done, if any.

I’ve never attempted to vote for any Federal level office in more than one state but have voted in local elections in more than one state where I had valid ‘residency’ as defined by those localities – these were mainly in years where I moved from one state to another.

Occupation rules generally make it difficult for someone who say, has a vacation property in one state and lives full time elsewhere, to cast ballots – again, this isn’t to say someone might purjure themselves a bit if they wanted to vote, but one would at least have to falsely answer registration questions to do so.

42

dbk 10.15.13 at 9:23 pm

As a dual citizen of the U.S. and an EU country, I have voted in elections in both for more than 30 years, and feel pride in the fact that I’ve missed only one election (2012 Pres election, U.S. – the crookedtimber “lesser evil” posts paralyzed me, alas).

I was an adult when I emigrated, and so feel indissoluble ties to the U.S.; however, I only vote in Presidential cycles for national representatives (House of Representatives/ Senate – if relevant in a particular cycle- and President). In the EU country where I live/work, I vote in all elections, from local (mayoral/city council) to EU Parliamentary.

Ingrid’s argument is intriguing and is one I had never thought about; rather, I have considered it both privilege and responsibility to hold dual citizenship, though this may be partly due to the fact that I never sought it; rather, it was imposed on me by marriage.

I certainly feel vested in the political systems of both countries, though I pay taxes only in one given that my income is too low to be subject to tax in the other. I will inherit in the U.S., and my children have chosen to live there permanently. I follow U.S. politics more closely than I do those of my country of residence (where politics are pretty dire currently).

As an added bonus, I have the chance to cast a throwaway vote for the U.S. House of Representatives every four years, since my district has not elected a Democrat in about a million years (actually, 70). A futile but morally compelling act, imho.

43

dax 10.18.13 at 1:29 pm

“the US is the only country that does this. “

AFAIK the only exception is Eritrea. Ironically the UN has condemned Eritrea’s diaspora tax as a violation of human rights, with of course the US supporting the UN.

“A French-owned French bank that chooses only to do business with French people in France could still find itself (indirectly) being taxed by the US government through the 30% withholding requirement.”

Is your point that the French bank will be taxed because some French people may have dual French-US citizenship? Otherwise, AFAIK if the French bank has no US persons as clients, then it will not be liable for the 30% withholding. In fact, this is one reason why many banks in many countries (e.g. Switzerland) are refusing to take American expatriates as clients and in some cases closing their accounts – so that they can avoid IRS reporting requirements and still not pay the withholding.

44

Woodlawn 10.19.13 at 6:47 pm

Another case in point would be tens of thousands of Israeli settlers who are U.S. citizens, voting in American elections for candidates based on their support for fundamentalist, settler, Likud policies. Are they vested in the political cultures of both countries, really? At what point are “dual citizens” immersed in their new identities, and voting on behalf of their “foreign” interests? (I’ve talked with some who felt they were planting Jewish colonies, nevermind nationality.) If that’s acceptable, can I vote in the elections of countries whose policies affect me, please?

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