In the 2015 UK general election, young people engagement and participation could make a striking difference on electoral turnout. More precisely, as research by Britain’s cross-party think tank Demos shows, “Up to three million young voters are up for grabs in the next elections. The political party that can tap into this pool may just win the keys to Downing Street.” In fact, even though young people are commonly believed to be disinterested, indifferent and apathetic towards politics, the survey shows that a significant majority (77%) of them intend to vote on 7 May 2015. However, according to the research, about 44% of 18 to 25 year-olds are still unsure about which party to vote for.
It is therefore political parties’ responsibility and aim to gain young voters’ attention through ongoing campaigns, showing what they have to offer them in relation to policy areas that young people particularly care about, such as employment, education and health. Among the main issues, 69% of interviewees expressed concern about the cost of living, 62% about affordable housing, 58% mentioned unemployment and the same proportion said the NHS.
In general, young voters want to see more politicians representing them and their interests, being also able to relate more with younger politicians, women and ethnic minorities. As suggested by Moira Swinbank, the chief executive of youth social action charity vlnspired, in order to get more involved, young voters also need to have more information “in the space they communicate in”. The role of social media and platforms like Facebook and Twitter as a way of getting in touch with the younger part of the population and communicating in a ‘jargon-free’ language, has become pivotal. Without doubt, more still needs to be done by party leaders in this direction.