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Up to 70% won’t vote: election missing ‘youth factor’
Monday June 01, 2009 18:01 by Volunteer - SpunOut.ie
Time to engage young people...
Young people in Ireland are not as uninterested in the upcoming elections as many people might think. Instead they are finding the political system inaccessible, confusing and uninspiring.
That’s the view of the SpunOut.ie National Youth Organisation, which reaches 100,000s of young people each year. According to SpunOut.ie there are approximately 500,000 young people in Ireland between the ages of 18 and 25 and according to a SpunOut.ie poll, up to 70% (350,000) of these may not be voting on Friday.
“Young people often find the political system difficult to understand and access. Many don’t know what impact their vote would have and they generally don’t know how the local and European government systems work. This is further compounded by difficulties in voter registration and a sense of despair when it comes to mainstream politics, parties and their policies” according to a SpunOut.ie spokesperson.
“Those that do intend voting appear to be moving away from post civil war politics where people voted Fine Gael or Fianna Fail in line with family allegiances. A young well travelled, highly educated and increasingly unemployed generation are actively seeking alternatives to represent their worldviews but are increasingly disillusioned by a political system which pays lip service to youth issues” they added.
Because of this disconnection between young people and our political system Ireland is not benefiting from the vast pool of ideas, energy and talent that a younger view can bring to politics. This must be addressed and a radical rethink is needed.
“The current health, economic and environmental situation urgently requires new thinking. It’s time to open up the doors to young people and to harness their potential as active citizens. To do this we need civic education in schools, a more participatory voting system and a move away from meaningless placards and sloganeering. Parties need to articulate their policies on youth issues, address major concerns such as access to education, employment and recreation facilities, and make bold new moves to tackle equality, climate change and corporate corruption”.
SpunOut.ie is an independent youth powered national charity working to empower young people to create personal and social change. SpunOut.ie combines an interactive online community providing health and lifestyle information, signposting to help services, an alternative youth media space, dynamic discussion forums, and a platform for youth engagement, participation and advocacy. SpunOut.ie reaches nearly half a million users online each year, millions more through the media and has won numerous awards including a Golden Spider Award for 'Best Charity Website' in Ireland.