Public Lecture: Cities vs States: Will the citizenship of the future be urban?
Since the first decade of the millennium – for the first time in human history – more people are living in urban areas than in rural ones. According to UN projections, in 2050 the share of urban populations may rise to two thirds of the world population. Will this demographic change also lead to a decline of nation-states and a rise of cities as the dominant arenas of politics, democracy and citizenship? In current liberal democratic states, the national level constrains the democratic potential of cities to develop their own forms of citizenship and often urban votes are weighted down in national systems of electoral representation. There is a strong case for emancipating urban from national citizenship by deriving it from residence instead of nationality and for overhauling skewed systems of national representation to secure equal weights for urban and rural voters. Yet there are two reasons why urban citizenship should be regarded as complementing rather than as replacing national citizenship. First, growing domestic cleavages between rural/sedentary and urban/mobile populations can only be overcome through strengthening the stakes of both in national and supranational polities. Second, national citizenship serves to assign responsibility for the protection of individuals to specific states. Even if cities create international networks these cannot substitute for the role of states in creating international institutions and law.