Three quarters of ethnic Chinese voters will cast their vote for National if an election was held tomorrow, a survey has found.
But the party that is gaining the biggest rise in Chinese support is Winston Peter’s New Zealand First, according to the World TV-Trace Chinese voter poll.
The study, backed by local Chinese media company World TV, claims to be the first in-depth study of New Zealand Chinese voting habits here.
Contrary to findings of the NZ General Social Survey, which found low voting rates among recent migrants, the poll found Chinese voter turnout in the 2014 General Elections was 78.5 per cent – higher than the national average of 76.8 per cent.
Dr Xin Chen, research fellow at the University of Auckland New Zealand Asia Institute, said the findings didn’t surprise her.
“If one reads local Chinese traditional and social media reports, you will have the impression that the Chinese follow closely government policy deliberations and decisions and are ready to express their opinions,” Chen said.
“They are also keenly involved in debates among themselves on issues and problems that challenge New Zealand society.”
At the last election, 74.1 per cent recalled they voted National and 14 per cent for Labour.
Nearly six in 10 of the 21.5 per cent who didn’t vote in the last election said they were “not interested in politics” or “not in NZ on election day”.
Other non-voters were not sure if they were eligible, didn’t know how to enrol and didn’t know the election date.
The poll was conducted between April 27 and May 1. It surveyed 1250 eligible Chinese New Zealand voters and 179 who were not currently eligible to vote.
All respondents were ethnic Chinese – including Chinese from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and China.
When asked which party they would vote for if an election was held tomorrow, 73.5 per cent said National, which is down 0.6 per cent, Labour 15.8 per cent (up 1.8), New Zealand First 4.7 per cent (up 3.6), Act 3.6 per cent (down 2.1) and Green Pary 2 per cent (down 0.4).
“There is a shared opinion across the Chinese community that since many Chinese migrants are business owners, they tend to vote National,” Chen said.
Chen believed New Zealand First’s appeal was because of its senior citizens policies.
The Chinese formed the highest proportion of migrants aged 50 years and over to gain permanent residence.
More Chinese women (78.6 per cent) than men (68.9 per cent) intended to vote for National, but both Labour and New Zealand First had more support from men.
National has strong support across all age groups, but strongest among those aged 30-39 years, which happens to also be the weakest base for Labour.
Labour’s support comes mainly from those aged between 18 to 29 years, those aged 60 years and older and people between 40 and 49 years.
Resarcher Dr Andrew Zhu said the poll was aimed at helping Chinese perceptions to be better understoond in New Zealand.
He said it could also serve as a guide for Government and opposition parties for their future policy developments.
“Until now, we don’t have statistical indications to support the Chinese community’s political opinions,” Zhu said.
“Hopefully, this would also encourage Chinese voters to care about their democratic rights and engage them with the coming 2017 General Election.”
By Lincoln Tan
New Zealand Herald