Hindus, Sikhs most likely to vote in Britain: Study

April 22nd, 2008 - 10:13 am ICT by admin  

London, April 22 (IANS) South Asians are more likely to vote than others in British elections, with Hindus and Sikhs topping the group, an academic study says. The study published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a social policy research charity, says South Asian turnout was one percentage point higher (approximately 59 percent) than non-Asians (approximately 58 percent) in the 2001 general elections in Britain.

When the results are broken down into religious groups, South Asians of Hindu and Sikh heritage had higher rates of participation (approximately 61 percent and 60 percent) than Muslims (59 percent).

Findings of the research, conducted in England and Wales, refuted the “perceived opinion that minority ethnic electors are less likely to vote in general elections than other electors”.

The overall turnout rate of 59.4 percent at the 2001 elections, which returned Tony Blair-led Labour to power, was the lowest since 1918.

The research findings were seized by the Hindu Council UK (HCUK)- an umbrella group of Hindu organisations - to criticise government spending on unnamed other faith groups.

“This raises a serious question - do the government need to spend hundreds of millions funding favoured faith communities for fighting terrorism while ignoring the support needs of the integrative communities thus creating further imbalance and tensions weakening the positive resolve inherent in society?” asked Anant M. Vyas, executive representative of HCUK, in a statement issued Monday.

“Hindus must be given the long overdue credit and recognition for being peace loving and cost-effective, preventatives solution lead community.”

The group said the research findings “gives us the power to persuade the government” and urged British Hindus to make their “vote count in persuading the local, parish council and the British Parliament to take heed of the needs of the diverse British Hindu community which has been sidelined, ignored and taken for granted for far too long.

“We are also compiling a list of MPs whose work has been anti-Hindu in our opinion or those who consistently ignore us or use us for their own ends and will be sharing that information with the temples and community organisations in future,” Vyas added.

The research, conducted by David Cutts and Edward Fieldhouse of Manchester University, also contradicts previous estimates that suggested minority ethnic women were less likely to participate in elections than men.

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