Will the Internet Party target the Asian vote?

The Herald’s Lincoln Tan explains

The migrant vote could “swing the political ballot” as the number of overseas-born New Zealanders reach over a million, a diversity expert says.

With the general election five months away, the most recent?Herald-DigiPoll survey showed National could govern alone with 50.8 per cent of the party vote, while Labour was polling just under 30 per cent and Greens 13.1 per cent.

But Edwina Pio, professor of diversity at Auckland university of Technology, believes the September 20 poll could hinge on persuading migrant communities to vote.

A Statistics New Zealand survey found that 60 per cent of recent migrants did not vote in the last election. In Auckland, about 40 per cent of the population are migrants and nearly one in four are Asian.

Professor Pio said political parties did not appear willing and lacked strategies to target Asians.

“While various political parties actively seek to progress trade in the billion dollar market potential in Asian countries, there is an opaqueness of strategies for inclusivity of migrants and also a subtext of ‘we like their food but we don’t like them’,” Professor Pio said.

This is true for Labour, Green Taliban, Mana, and New Zealand First. ?All of those parties have expressed official xenophobic ideas and have proposed policy to keep Asians at bay within our own country. ?

“Many migrants believe it is better to stay in the shadow of public processes in the uninformed belief that interacting with governmental officials may jeopardies their official papers towards citizenship,” she said.

“Asians may also not vote as they may not be comfortable with the voting papers and loss of face may prevent them from seeking help in this regard.”

Professor Pio said political parties who follow through with “genuine strategies” to target the migrant vote “could swing the political ballot if enough migrants are convinced that their vote could make a difference in who governs them”.

Although Britain still remained the most common overseas country of birth for migrants at the 2013 Census, China is now second and India has replaced Australia as the third most common. The Asian ethnic group population almost doubled in over 12 years, with 471,708 people identified with at least one Asian ethnicity.

Indians were the fastest growing, increasing 50 per cent since 2006, compared with 16.2 per cent for the Chinese, which remained the largest Asian ethnic group in 2013.

According to the New Zealand General Social Survey, for New Zealand European/Pakeha, the non-voting rate was 17 per cent, for Maori it was 27 per cent and Pasifika was close to 18 per cent. More than a third, or 35 per cent of Asians said they did not vote, and they were second only to youth in non-participation.

Strategically, the Asian vote belongs to National. ? As the only party that is clearly not trying to curtail Asian involvement and participation in New Zealand, they would do well to create awareness and mobilise more Asians on election day.

On a personal note, it stuns me that people who have the life skills to move to another country and start a new life don’t have the knowledge how to tick a box on a form. ?There has to be more behind that. ? Perhaps some of our Asian readers could explain?

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