London: Over six lakh India-born migrants form the UK's largest foreign-born voter population and they could play a decisive role in certain constituencies in the general election in May.
According to a new study titled 'Migrant Voters in the 2015 Election' released here today, 6,15,000 Indian-origin voters are expected to vote in the May 7 election.
The figure is far ahead of the other migrant groups on the voter list ? those from Pakistan at 4,31,000, the Irish Republic 2,97,000, Bangladesh 1,83,000 and Nigeria 1,82,000.
The figures compiled for the joint study conducted by Manchester University and Migrants' Rights Network are derived from the UK's Office for National Statistics analysis of 2001-2011 census data and include voters who are eligible to vote as Commonwealth citizens or have become British citizens after living in the UK for five or more years.
The study concludes that although migrants do not tend to vote as a bloc, previous patterns suggest they are likely to prefer parties viewed as positive about race equality and immigration.
"[Anti-immigration party] UKIP have made all the running with the immigration debate in the past few years and we have seen all of the parties looking to offer a harder line on migrants.
"But there is another side to this debate millions of hardworking British citizens who came to this country from abroad who find this kind of rhetoric profoundly alienating," said report co-author Robert Ford from Manchester University.
"If the parties do not respond to that then they face lasting damage," he added.
For the first time in this year's elections, it is predicted that more than 50 per cent of voters of the eligible electorate will have been born abroad in at least two seats in London ? East Ham and Brent North both with large Indian-origin populations.
"Migrant voters, just like anyone else, want to hear what the parties are saying on issues that are important to them. Too often, though, the message is that they are not welcome here. Instead, politicians should put forward a bold vision in which migrants are an equal and valued part of 21st-century Britain," said co-author Ruth Grove-White.
The study highlights seats where the migrant vote is likely to have the biggest impact ? areas where there are large numbers of eligible migrant voters and a relatively small majority for the sitting MP.
In this so-called "migrant power list" there are 12 Opposition Labour marginal seats, six ruling Conservative seats and two held by the Liberal Democrats.
"Politicians would be best served by seeking to reach out to this significant portion of the electorate ahead of May 2015 and to encourage their active political participation," the report concludes.