BLOG by Prof. Maurice Cauchi | It has often been taken for granted that those who left the Maltese islands a couple of generations ago would not be interested in local politics in their adopted homeland and still less in politics in Malta.
And if this is true for the first generation, one would have expected that it might even be more so in the subsequent generations of those born overseas having a Maltese background.
Those from the second generation would be expected to be more interested in issues in Malta and overseas, partly as a result of better education, resulting in better economic and social conditions. The availability of Maltese citizenship, which opens a gate into Europe, would be another attraction.
One has to bear in mind that the second and subsequent generations constitute about four-fifths of the total Maltese-background people in Australia and growing (as shown in the latest census of 2011).
We cannot therefore assume that the political involvement of these people would reflect those of their parents and grandparents.
Studies relating to second generation Maltese-background individuals overseas are quite limited. (See, for instance, Maltese Background Youth, by M. Cauchi, H. Borland and R. Adams, published by Victoria University, 1999).
In view of this lacuna in our knowledge about the views of second-generation, Maltese-background people in Australia, the Maltese Community Council of Victoria is conducting a survey to obtain, among other things, more information about the views of people of Maltese background in relation to involvement with politics in Malta and Europe. This is a preliminary result of these findings.
There is definitely an active interest by Maltese living abroad in being involved in the election processes
Perhaps the most fundamental issue is whether these people consider themselves Maltese or otherwise. A surprising majority of respondents (85 per cent) defined their ethnicity as either ‘Maltese/Australian’ (71 per cent) or simply as ‘Maltese’ (13 per cent), with only 15 per cent considering themselves as ‘Australian’.
One question was meant to assess their interest and involvement in local politics in Australia. While the majority of respondents (64 per cent) stated that they were interested in Australian political news, only a very small minority (3.5 per cent) were actually personally involved.
Of interest is the fact that the percentage of people actually involved in union matters stood at 23 per cent.
Of more relevance to the Malta scene is the interest shown by these respondents about the situation in Malta. About one-third of respondents (32 per cent) declared that they kept themselves informed of the political situation in Malta. Moreover, a larger proportion (48 per cent) stated that they were informed of conditions in Europe.
Questions were also asked about their views on whether they would be interested in becoming involved in a postal vote for elections to Parliament if such a thing was available. It was rather surprising to note that just under half of the respondents stated that they would be interested in voting in elections for members of Parliament in Malta (45 per cent) and also for members of the European Parliament (46 per cent).
This is only a preliminary report and it is not claimed that this is necessarily representative of the whole community in Australia. However, if these trends are confirmed, they would imply that there is definitely an active interest by Maltese living abroad in being involved in the election processes in Malta and Europe.