Government International Affairs

How Diaspora Communities Sway Nations

In such a globalized world, external factors continue to have an increasing influence on domestic issues. Migration has especially played a dynamic role in diversifying the wide reach that nations have across the globe. In particular, expatriates and diaspora communities have adapted into heavily impactful roles within specific nations.

As has been well documented over the years, hoards of migrants have been scattered across the globe for decades now due to a multitude of reasons including political instability, war, persecution, famine, and a general lack of domestic opportunities. Regardless, people naturally hold onto their strong ties to their home nations and have proven to remain active in those issues concerning their homeland.

With a closer look, diaspora communities often have relatively large voting turnouts and are instrumental in deciding the outcome of elections. For example, the 2018 Turkish general election brought out about 475,000 diaspora voters from Germany, over half of which supported incumbent President Erdogan. Interestingly, Erdogan had a higher proportion of support in Germany than he did domestically, around a 66% to 53% comparison.

In a similar fashion, Italian diaspora voters had a meaningful impact on their recent elections in 2018. Over 1.1 million Italians living abroad turned out to vote, showing a respectable expatriate turnout of about 30%. Considering the complexity of voting from abroad, those who do so exemplify true determination and a sense of purpose by taking initiative to do their part in the democratic process. Because the elections were close, a hung parliament was the outcome, proving that those expatriates who took it upon themselves to move the needle really did make a difference for their nation. In competitively electing 12 parliamentary representatives and 6 senators, the Italian diaspora reiterated their importance to their homeland, showing their commitment and responsibility they still hold for it.

On a smaller and much more noticeable scale, the Croatian diaspora communities have been voting in blocs for decades. From the fallout of WWII and the Yugoslav wars, Croatian refugees have scattered and reorganized themselves across the globe, always gripping onto their strong connection with their homeland. In the 2016 parliamentary elections, Croatians abroad showed out with 21,000 votes, effectively electing 2 seats for the winning coalition as well as electing an independent retired general who grew up in Canada, served in the Canadian military, and the French Foreign Legion to carry their voice in parliament. Needless to say, Croatian expatriate voters are very involved in their electoral proceedings.

Given the increasing degree of international connectivity, it’s natural for domestic elections to take more and more of a role on an international stage. The rampant migration in recent years due to a multitude of reasons further supports the impact and swing potential of expatriate voting. As our societies continue to reform, it is clear that the potential is there for diaspora voters to take advantage of their tight-knit communities and take a collective action for their own interests and that of their homeland.

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