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I know that clique.propose can be manually entered into geth and then all other nodes to finally add a new node. Is there a way to automate this for example using a smart contract? Then the proposal could be made automatically. I assume function modifiers could be used so that users can only propose on their own nodes.

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This is not possible since the Clique PoA algorithm operates on block headers directly, which are not accessible from smart contracts.

For details see https://github.com/ethereum/EIPs/issues/225

The closest solution of the mechanism which you're describing, would be:

  • a smart contract is deployed representing the permissions to seal
  • sealers are calling clique.propose according to the state of the contract

However, this would only be a organisational convention and the smart contract could not enforce the changes at the protocol level. A clean solution would be to reimplement the algorithm and couple it to a pre-deployed (via genesis) smart contract.

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