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Dr Jennifer Curtin


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Dr Jennifer Curtin

  1. 1. YOUTH PARTICIPATION WHAT DO WE KNOW? WHAT IS TO BE DONE? Dr Jennifer Curtin, The University of Auckland Wellington, New Zealand
  2. 2. Youth participation What do we know? What is to be done? Associate Professor Jennifer Curtin Politics and International Relations School of Social Sciences 2
  3. 3. What do we know? • Young people about 20% of the voting age population; • Those who are 65+ make up about 15% of VAP; • We have good systems in place to get young people on the role; • But only around three quarters of those eligible actually enrol; • When they do turnout they are more likely to vote Green; • Not necessarily ‘left’; interested in party that gives them ‘voice’ • Left-right spectrum has less meaning • Youth as less ideologically committed to a party • Catch-all strategies work for parties • but do not engage young voters 3
  4. 4. No such thing as the “youth vote” • Need to capture the realities of the cumulative nature of the social biases in participation. • Not all NZ young people are disengaged; Generation Zero, Amnesty, model UN, youth parliaments, etc • But young people with low levels of education, low income, who live in rural areas, who are Māori, Pasifika and those of Asian descent, less likely to participate • If marginalised economically and socially also politically • Empower NZ / Youth Law consultation shows different approaches – politics of/in everyday life 4
  5. 5. International research tells us: • Absenteeism by young people is related to socio-economic factors; • there is mutual distrust between political parties and young people; • political parties slow to take into account changes in young people’s forms of political activism, interests and means of communication • Young people rarely cite a preference for private affairs as a reason for not voting; nor are they protesting by not voting • They do feel they have less security in the welfare system and labour market (compared to older voters) • And that they and their interests are excluded from formal politics (party and institutional) 5
  6. 6. International research tells us: • Vicious circle of the rational actor theory • Young people don’t vote because parties don’t appeal • Parties don’t appeal because young people don’t vote • Parties do not see disengagement as impacting on their vote share • Young people less interested in electoral contests • more interested in cause-focused political action & networking • Parties no longer participatory organisations involved in political socialisation – do not attract young members 6
  7. 7. What is to be done? NOW • Parties put more young people forward as candidates; • “Listening” and asking the right questions about politics • Ask for “views” as well as their “vote” • Personal contact not just social media (slogans) • Policy platforms and party manifestos (youth audits) NEXT • Party organisation - integrating youth wings • Teaching political history, and rights and responsibilities of belonging to a community in schools • Experiential learning at school – deliberation & decision-making • Investigate lowering voting age to 16 – increases the venues for political socialisation; 7