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About face of the migrant vote

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first_imgThe changes in the way migrants have voted throughout the years, may dictate the way the Greek community will cast their vote tomorrow. But it is argued if there is such a thing as the migrant vote itself. Professor Ian McAllister of ANU believes there is and has spent over five decades investigating the ethnic vote, and has noticed a considerable change in the way Southern Europeans, including Greeks, have voted since the early days of migration in the 1950s. According to his research, Professor He said that the migrant vote was predominately Labor, more so in the ’70s when the then Whitlam government first introduced multiculturalism policies. But since 1998 when this vote peaked at 33 per cent dropped to 9 per cent by 2010. He says one of the reasons of this decline could be due to the weakening of immigration and multicultural policies in the national agenda. Yet Dr Nick Economou, Senior Lecturer in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University, disputes there is such a thing as a “migrant vote” and says the main driving factor of electoral behaviour is class, and one’s relationship to the economy, and that alone. “The interesting thing about some social scientists is they seem to shift around looking for anything other than what is the obvious driver of political attitudes and behaviour, including electoral behaviour, and the obvious one is your relationship to the economy,” Dr Economou tells Neos Kosmos.“If you are in the business of making money and are a business person, you want less taxes, you want the state to butt out so you can get into the market place and the political party that argues all things is the Liberal party so you vote for them. “If on other hand you are a wage and salary earner, you are in a vulnerable part of the economy, you’ve been pushed around by management the chances are if you are not in a union – chances are you are sympathetic to the idea of unionism – and then you will vote Labor.”“And in amongst all of this of course, the Australian Greek community is now big enough and has been around for so a long time there is quite a substantial number of professionals. No doubt you are able to isolate people of a Greek background who are sympathetic towards and vote for the Greens and they display typical characteristics too; Human services employed, high levels of tertiary education probably living in the city… so we are just like everybody else.”Dr Economou adds that there is a “danger towards stereotyping groups” of people when it comes to this issue, adding that “we should get beyond stereotyping people on the basis of their ethnic background”.He says the changes – as described by Professor McAllister, aren’t based on ethnicity, they are based purely on class. “What we’ve seen throughout the years immigration usually results in recently arrived people working in the poorer paid, most vulnerable positions and they tend to be naturally Labor voting,” he says. “If they achieve upward social mobility their voting behaviour will transition.” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more