Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 04:05:43 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Youth abstention from polls causing apprehensions

By
20th-May-2017       Readers ( 154 )   0 Comments
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all (0) »

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)

0 Comments. Share your thoughts also.
Write a comment
Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Football »

Brothers taste first win in BPL Football


Brothers Union Club registered their first victory in the Saif Power Battery Bangladesh Premier League Football as they recorded a hard-fought solitary goal victory over Muktijodda Sangsad Krira Chakra held on Tuesday at Bangabandhu National Stadium.The first half of the match saw both the team got several scoring chances but ...

Editorial »

None to oversee and run the Insurance Sector


ACCORDING to the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA) sources, the organisation's top posts are still vacant, meaning - it can neither hold Board Meetings nor take decisions on policyholders and insurers' interest. Thus, the IDRA's validity and functionality come into the fore right away. IDRA has been formed under ...

International »

After Trump`s warning, China jumps to defense of Pakistan


PTI, New Delhi :China today jumped to the defence of its all-weather ally Pakistan in the wake of US President Donald Trump's stern warning to it over providing safe havens to terrorists, claiming that Islamabad is at the frontline of combating terrorism.Donald Trump, in his first prime-time televised address to ...

International »

India's top court bans Islamic instant divorce


Reuters, New Delhi :India's Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled a controversial Muslim instant divorce law unconstitutional, a landmark victory for Muslim women who had long argued that it violated their right to equality.The law allows Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word "talaq" three times. Muslim ...

City »

`Japan to continue support for Bangladesh's uplift`


Japan assured that the country would continue its assistance for Bangladesh's development."We would continue to render assistance for the development of Bangladesh," Japanese Ambassador in Dhaka Masato Watanabe said when he paid a farewell call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office here on Tuesday morning. After the meeting, ...

Entertainment »

Jacqueline blessed to be a part of A Gentleman and Judwaa 2


Jacqueline Fernandez is certainly on a high with much talked about projects, A Gentleman opposite Sidharth Malhotra and Judwaa 2 opposite Varun Dhawan, releasing back to back. With A Gentleman releasing this Friday and simultaneously stepping into the promotions of her movie, Judwaa 2, it’s an eventful period for Jacqueline ...

Editorial »

High risk in railway travel through flooding zones


A FATAL train accident was narrowly averted in Tangail on Sunday dawn as locals from a nearby mosque stepped in to stop a train only few yards from a bridge partially destroyed by floodwater in the Kalihati Upazila of the district. Driver of the Dhaka-bound Nilsagar Express carrying around 2000 ...

Cricket »

Australia's cricket players (from left) Glenn Maxwell, David Warner and Usman Khawaja playing with a ball during a practice session in Dhaka on Monday. Australia is scheduled to play two Test matches against Bangladesh beginning August 27 in Dhaka.


Entertainment »

Chirodiner Sabina on BTV in Eid


Sabina Yasmin is a living legend in the country’s music arena. For many years her songs inspired us. She has not only rendered patriotic songs but also gave her voice for play-back songs. On the occasion of coming Eid, Bangladesh Television has taken initiative to arrange a solo musical show ...

Entertainment »

Legendary film actor Razzak


Entertainment Desk :Abdur Razzak (1942-2017) was a legendary Bangladeshi actor and film director. He is referred to as Nayak Raj Razzak, a title given by Ahmed Zaman Chowdhury, editor of Chitrali. He got the Independence Day Award in 2015. Razzak was born in Naktala in South Kolkata His parents Akbar ...

City »

BFUJ President Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul, among others, at a programme for collecting relief materials for flood-hit people organised by Rangpur Bibhag Sangbadik Samity at the Jatiya Press Club on Monday.


International »

Trump sends `thoughts and prayers` to US sailors in crash


AFP, Washington :US President Donald Trump late Sunday tweeted his "thoughts and prayers" to the sailors aboard a US destroyer that collided with a tanker near Singapore, leaving 10 missing and five injured."Thoughts & prayers are w/ our @USNavy sailors aboard the #USSJohnSMcCain where search & rescue efforts are underway", ...

Editorial »

River erosion now adds to flood woes


REPEATED environmental disasters seem to take heavy toll on the people of this country this year. Followed by unprecedented off-season heavy rainfall, landslides, flash floods and the ongoing floods again, the newest woe that hits the people is unprecedented river erosions in the north and middle parts of the country. ...

Cricket »

Mominul to replace Mosaddek in 14-member national squad


A day after his omission from the team, top order batsman and most consistent performer in the longer version cricket Mominul Haque was recalled to the Bangladesh's squad on Sunday for the first Test against touring Australia scheduled to begin on August 27 at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium (SBNCS) in ...

Entertainment »

I have left everything for films and there is no looking back: Srinidhi Shetty


Miss Supranational 2016 Srinidhi Shetty is an engineer, model and soon to be actress. Srinidhi started her pageant career after she finished her engineering degree from Bengaluru. She then participated in Yamaha Fascino Miss Diva 2016 and Miss Supernational 2016. 2016 has been Srinidhi's reigning year as Miss Supranational and ...

 
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