Study shows migrant vote can make a difference in municipal elections
People with a migrant background tend to be equally motivated to vote in municipal elections as Belgians without a migrant background. This is the conclusion of the study Living Together in Diversity by the Flemish Agency for Home Affairs, as reported by De Standaard.
The term "foreign origin" covers people with a foreign nationality or who have at least one parent with a foreign nationality at birth. Non-Belgian immigrants wishing to vote in local elections must fill out a form to be included on the electoral roll. In addition, non-Belgian citizens from outside the EU must have resided legally in the country for at least five years.
These rules do not, however, prevent people from voting. People of Turkish origin are just as likely to vote in the upcoming municipal elections as Belgians without a migration background, the study shows. People of Moroccan, Congolese and Afghan origin are almost as likely to vote.
People of Polish and Romanian origin are much less likely to vote. Only one in three people of Polish origin would go to the polls. The main reason is a lack of interest in politics.
Different voting behaviour
However, the migrant vote will play a role in next year's local elections. Previous research by Dirk Jacobs of Université libre de Bruxelles shows that certain groups vote differently. The research shows that people with a migration background start voting left but gradually shift to the right.
People with a Turkish background were more likely to vote for candidates with a Turkish background, he found. "A voter first looks for the party that best matches his or her ideology," Jacobs told De Standaard. "Only after that do they consider individuals who might be similar to them in terms of origin."
"Gradually, the voting behaviour of people with a migration background becomes more like that of the rest of the population"
"Over time, voting patterns diversify," Jacobs said. "Gradually, the voting behaviour of people with a migration background becomes more like that of the rest of the population, including more votes for the centre and the right. Twenty years ago, left-wing parties got all the immigrant votes, partly because they had immigrants on their lists. Over time, right-wing parties have also realised the importance of this."
Many people with a migrant background will be eligible to vote in the 2024 local elections. It's estimated that around 150,000 people of Moroccan and 111,000 of Turkish origin live in Flanders. In the Brussels-Capital region, there are 164,000 people of Moroccan origin and 37,000 of Turkish origin. The other groups of origin are much smaller.
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