Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Conservatives and citizenship

Much debate on Andrew Robb's call for potential citizens to pass a test of fidelity to Australian values. There a deeper agenda behind this. Up to now the Coalition has benefited by identification with Anglo Australia, but over coming decades the ethnic composition of Australia may change more quickly than previously. At some point we will reach a tipping point where an Anglocentric appeal is electorally counterproductive as non-Anglos are such a large group. This will be a problem for Australian conservatives. One strategy would be to minimise the number of non-Anglo voters, and making citizenship harder to get would be part of this (so would voluntary voting a longstanding Robb cause). Note that Robb is carefully talking about citizenship not immigration. British migrants are less likley to take out citizenship 56% in 1996 vs. 90% for Vietnamese. American conservatives are currently divided on immigration reform, between traditional anti-immigration campaigners and those who seek to recruit Hispanics to the Republic party (one of the few issues where the 'neo-conservatives' seem to have a distinctive position from traditional mainstream conservatives. Greg Sheridan's opposition to guest worker proposals is an Australian equivalent). Bush did make some progress among Hispanics in 2004, in particular among Protestants. There is some evidence now that an Anglocentric appeal to tougher controls on migration may cost Republicans votes, here and here. The American debate has brought out the wingnuts, see this on the Mexican reconquest.


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