Issue 375, August 15, 2017
Elections have always excited people, although some surveys showed apathy among the younger members of the society, which is likely to reverse this year, given the fact both Labour and National have introduced a number of new faces as their electoral candidates and on their lists.
The Indian community, which is likely to account for about 80,000 votes throughout the country, has thus far been somewhat indifferent towards politics, divided largely between National and Labour. In a number of constituencies which account for a large number of Indian population, especially Mt Roskill, Mt Albert, Manurewa, Mangere, Manukau East and Te Atatu in Auckland, the winning candidates have drawn their strength from the community.
But this should not be interpreted to mean that the community holds the key to electoral results; far from it; while the Indian vote is important, it is not critical to any party in any constituency.
Population figures quoted by various organisations including some sections of the media place the total number of Indians at 200,000, the proof of which does not exist. Statistics New Zealand accounted for 155,178 persons in its Census 2013, compared to 104,583 in 2006. This number represents people of Indian origin from all over the world, including those on work permits and hence not eligible to vote.
The Population exaggeration
According to Statistics New Zealand, the total number of Indians arriving in this country over the past three years from the last Census was 31,600, Year 2015 recording the largest number of Indians (12,600). Of the total number of Indian arrivals of 31,600, about 66% (or two-thirds) were students and a smaller percentage (about 5%) were migrant workers.
Thusly, the total number of people of Indian origin as at the end of last year would have been about 165,000. Calculating the total number of eligible voters (migrants, students and all others who are neither permanent residents nor citizens are eligible to vote) as about 105,000, of which again, at least 40% would not vote, it is difficult to imagine how less than 50,000 people can influence the voting pattern in the country.
As we have mentioned in the past, the Indian vote becomes weighty only in the Auckland local government elections, especially in local boards.
It is often argued that Indians will not vote if they feel that an election does not offer a chance of real change, what is termed a ‘mobilising election.’ Such change can come either from the party in power or from the one that aspires to get to the Beehive.