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Your Future in Europe - Are young people the answer to this Election race?

Thu, 8 January 2015

Your Future in Europe - Are young people the answer to this Election race?

With Your Future in Europe a few weeks away, questions turn to the youth and how they'll be voting late Spring.

"Young people are currently turned off voting because politicians aren't offering them credible, positive policies that address the issues they're most concerned about", said Jonathan Birdwell, head of political participation at Demos, last year. "The political party that can tap into this pool may just win the keys to Downing Street".

This comes off the back of a survey by Populus, on behalf of Demos that 44% (representing almost three million young people aged 18-25) have not decided who they'll vote for in the General Election, come 7th May 2015.


Class is a factor 

The research from more than 1,000 18 to 25-year-olds found 77% intended to vote - but only 30% of young women said they were interested.

Issues most concerning this demographic included unemployment, the NHS, affordable housing and the cost of living (the highest at 69%). Things like online privacy, amid the recent hacking scandals, rose in prominence to 50%, while tax avoidance and Britain's future in the EU was just than 40%.

Interestingly, more than half of those surveyed said they'd be more likely to vote if there were more working class MPs, while 31% cited female MPs and just over a quarter felt ethnic minority MPs were an incentive to vote. 

"Young people think politicians are all the same: elite, white men with expensive education." Birdwell continues, "[The research] shows the successful politician of the future will be from a working class background, born and raised in the area they represent, and accessible and down-to-earth on social media."

In contrast it was almost an even split around celebrity involvement: 19% saying they'd more likely vote due to a endorsing public personality, with 18% less likely.


"Social media must be central"

The survey suggested that all parties would benefit more from social media marketing, talking directly to young people via Skype or FaceTime in special "MP Surgeries". 

Moira Swinbank, chief executive of vInspired, a youth social action charity, agreed saying young people want information "in the space they communicate in".

"If they really want to get young people voting for them, they need to talk to them", though she later warned of using the likes of Twitter or Facebook to broadcast personal propaganda. 

Birdman believes that this will be a feat taking much reform. He went on: "Their challenge is to communicate their policies to young people in the spaces where they congregate, and in jargon-free language they understand. Social media must be central to voting outreach."

Courtesy of BBC News

This will be one of the many topics discussed at Your Future in Europe, 7th February 2015, at Palais des Congres, Paris

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