Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 09:08:53 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Youth abstention from polls causing apprehensions

By
20th-May-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Roberto Savio :
Immediately after the vote on Brexit, thousands of young people marched in the streets of England to show their disagreement over the choice to leave Europe. But polls indicated that had they voted en masse (only 37 percent voted), the result of the referendum would have been the opposite.
In the political system, it is now taken for granted that youth will largely abstain, and the agenda tends to ignore them more and more. This has created a vicious circle, setting up priorities which do not represent them. Yet, the analysis of the elections after the shattering economic and social crisis of 2008-9 is clear and statistically evident.
The European Parliament conducted research on the European elections of 2014 in the 28 member countries. While the youngest Europeans (18-24) are more positive about the European Union than the oldest (55+), far fewer of them turned out to vote. Turnout was higher among the oldest respondents.
Some 51 percent of the 55+ voted, while only 28 percent did in the 18-24 age group. This is relatively unchanged since the 2009 elections. And young people were more inclined to decide on the day of the elections, or a few days before (28 percent compared with the +55 group).
Already in 2014, 31 percent of the younger group said they never voted, against 19 percent of the 55+ age group. Yet, the younger the age, the more people had the feeling of being Europeans: 70 percent for the 18-24 year-olds, and 59 percent for the 55+ group.
It could be said, of course, that European elections are a special case. But a look at the past national elections in Europe confirms this trend. In the Austrian presidential elections of 2016, youth participation was at 43 percent. In 2010, it was 48 percent.
In the Dutch parliamentarian elections of 2017, the age group 18-24 vote was at 66 percent: it was 70 percent in 2012. In the Italian referendum of December 2016, the youth abstention was 38 percent, against 32 percent of the general population. And in the recent French presidential elections, the data are consistent: 78 percent abstention for the 25-34 age group; 65 percent for the 24-35; a solid 51 percent for the 35-49; and then 44 percent for the 50-64, with only 30 percent for those 65 and over.
In Israel, just 58 percent of under 35s, and just 41 percent of those under 25, voted in 2013, compared with 88 percent of over 55s. In Britain and Poland less than half of under 25s voted in the last general elections, compared with 88 percent of over 55s.
The growing youth abstention has significant implications. Let us take the last American elections that brought Donald Trump to the White House. The so-called Millennials, those of the age group 18-35, now make up 31 percent of the electorate. The Silent Generation (those 71+) are now 12 percent of the voting pool, and Generation X (36-51) makes up about 25 percent of the electorate.
Bernie Sanders' run was based on 2 million votes from the 19-24 age group - voters who basically abandoned the elections after his loss in the primaries. Young people's abstention rate, close to 67 percent, made the Millennials equivalent to the Silent Generation, and lost its demographic advantage. Millennials had a favourable view of Sanders at 54 percent, against 37 percent of Clinton. Just 17 percent of young people had a positive view of Trump.
Had only millennials voted, Clinton would have won the election in a landslide, with 473 electoral votes to Trump's 32.
The first obvious observation is that if the traditional intergenerational rift disappears, we will have little change in politics, as older voters are usually more conservative. And the second obvious observation is that citizens' participation will progressively shrink, as the young will age.
What is worrying is that we have too many polls on the reasons behind the political disenchantment of young people to think that the political system is unaware. On the contrary, many political analysts think that parties in power don't mind abstentions in general terms. It shrinks the voters to those who feel connected, whose priorities are clear and simpler to satisfy, as the older generations feel more secure than the younger ones.
And the theme of young people is disappearing in the political debate, or is merely rhetorical. A good example is that the Italian government devoted in 2016 a whopping 20 billion dollars to save four banks, while it dedicated a total of 2 billion dollars to create jobs for young people, in a country which has close to 40 percent youth unemployment.
For youth, the message is clear: finance is more important than their future. So they do not vote, and they are less and less a factor in the political system.
Spending on education and research are the first victims (together with health) when austerity hits. The results are evident. In Australia (where 25 percent of the young people said that "it does not matter what kind of government we have"), those over 65 pay no tax on income under 24,508 dollars. Younger workers start paying taxes at 15,080 dollars.
In rich countries the world over, people over 65 have subsidies and special discounts, such as on the cinema and other activities. Not the young people…. But when somebody with a message for the young comes into the picture, participation changes. In Canada, just 37 percent of the 18-24s voted in the election of 2008, against 39 percent in 2011. But when Justin Trudeau campaigned on a message of hope in 2015, youth participation rose sharply to 57 percent.
What is a real cause of concern for democracy, as an institution based on the waning concept of popular participation, is that young people are not at all apolitical. In fact, they are very aware of priorities like climate change, gender equality, social justice, common goods, and other concepts, much more than the older generation. At least 10 percent of young people volunteer in social groups and civil society, against 3 percent of the older generations.
They feel much more connected to the causes of humanity, have fewer racial biases, believe more in international institutions, and are more interested in international affairs. A good example is Chile. In 2010 general abstention was 13.1 percent. In 2013 it went to 58 percent. Youth abstention was 71 percent. If young people would vote, they could change the results.
Simply, they have given up on political institutions as corrupt, inefficient, and disconnected from their lives. A report last year found that 72 percent of Americans born before the Second World War thought it was "essential" to live in a country that was governed democratically. Less than a third of those born in the 1980s agreed.
We must note that the decline of participation in elections is a worldwide phenomenon, not just among young people, but also the general population. The last elections at the writing of this article were in the Bahamas; only 50 percent of the population went to vote. In Slovenia abstention is now at 57.6 percent, in Mali 54.2 percent, in Serbia 53.7 percent, in Portugal 53.5 percent, in Lesotho 53.4 percent, in Lithuania 52.6 percent, in Colombia 52.1 percent, in Bulgaria 51.8 percent, in Switzerland 50.9 percent…and this in regions as different as Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia…the crisis of political participation goes from the cradle of the parliamentarian system (Great Britain), 24 percent abstention, in 1964, to 34.2 in 2010 to Italy (7.1 percent in 2063, and in 2013 24.8 percent).

(Roberto Savio, founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News)

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

EC must upgrade database urgently


THE database of Election Commission (EC) containing elaborate information of about 10.5 crore voters may crash at any time  as they have not upgraded the hardware and software, including the automated fingerprint identification system, in due time. Besides, storage capacity of Oracle Exadata system has also expired which has increased ...

International »

Abbas seeks EU recognition to State of Palestine


AFP, Brussels :Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Monday urged the EU to "swiftly" grant official recognition to the state of Palestine as he sought support in Brussels amid a bitter row with Washington over the US plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem.Abbas told EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini that ...

Business & Economy »

L'Oreal hijab model pulls out of campaign after backlash over tweets


Evening Standard :A beauty blogger who was the first ever hijab-wearing model to front a mainstream haircare ad has pulled out of a campaign with L'Oreal after a backlash over tweets she wrote in 2014. Amena Khan wrote on Instagram that she had decided to step down from the campaign ...

Cricket »

Tamim joins 6000 runs ODI club


Southpaw opener Tamim Iqbal reached another milestone as he joined 6000 runs ODI Club during the 5th ODI of the triangular series against Zimbabwe at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium art Mirpur on Tuesday.The dashing opener Tamim, who hit his third consecutive fifties in this series so far, needed 66 runs ...

Sports »

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki hits a forehand return to Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro during their quarterfinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday.


Entertainment »

Fahmee to debut in big screen


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Though she has been acting in small screen for many days but Fahmida Sharmeen Fahmee had a dream to work in the big screen. At last, her dream comes into true. Finally she has been selected to cast in role of Farzana in Mizanur Rahman Labu’s movie ...

Entertainment »

SRK gets special honour at WEF


Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was at his wittiest best in Davos on Monday when he asked actress Cate Blanchett for a selfie publicly and immediately quipped that it may leave his children embarrassed, sending the audience into peals of laughter. Khan received the 24th Crystal Award on Monday at ...

City »

BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia appeared before the special court on Alia Madrasha premises in the city's Bakshibazar on Tuesday on two cases filed by Anti-Corruption Commission.


Editorial »

Banking sector is doomed, merger or no merger


FINANCE Minister AMA Muhith has recommended Bangladesh Bank to start merger of problem banks, but experts fear that such a move would not stop the rot the country's banking sector is facing. On December 28, Muhith wrote a letter to BB Governor Fazle Kabir pointing out that it was the ...

Sports »

Romania's Simona Halep celebrates after defeating Japan's Naomi Osaka during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia on Monday.


International »

Turkey in new assault on Kurdish militia on Syria


AFP  :Turkey on Monday shelled Kurdish militia targets in Syria and claimed progress in a cross-border offensive that has stoked concern among its allies and neighbours.The Turkish military on Saturday launched operation "Olive Branch", its second major incursion into Syrian territory during the seven-year civil war.The operation, where Turkish war ...

City »

BNP Standing Committee Member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, among others, at a protest rally organised by Akhtar Hossain Mukti Parishad at the Jatiya Press Club on Monday demanding release of all BNP leaders including Organizing Secretary of Dhaka Mahanagar Uttar Akhtar Hossain.


Entertainment »

Yami Gautam applauds India’s win at Blind Cricket World Cup 2018


Bollywood actress Yami Gautam took to Twitter to applaud the victory of India at the Blind Cricket World Cup 2018. India retained Blind Cricket World Cup title after beating Pakistan by two wickets in a thrilling final played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in UAE on Saturday. India had previously ...

Entertainment »

Razzak’s birthday today


Entertainment Report :If he would alive today he will turn into 77. He died on August 21 of 2017. His sudden demise made a gap in the field industry. He was basically a guardian in film arena. Today is birthday of legendary film actor Razzak. Younger son of Razzak, Khalid ...

Editorial »

Migrant workers` early death should worry our govt


A NATIONAL daily reported that at least 3,480 Bangladeshi workers died abroad in 2017, mostly due to stroke or heart attack. Unbearable physical and mental stress, workload, malnutrition, ill health care, thin sleep and rest time, and unhygienic living decrease the life expectancy of the Bangladeshi expatriates workers working in ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news