Young People 'Face Voting Generation Gap'

22 May 2017, 05:28

Ballot Box

Young people in Scotland are half as likely to feel they have the option to vote for someone who "understands their life'' compared to over-65s, a new poll has found.

The poll by BMG Research for the Electoral Reform Society Scotland found a generation gap in how people feel about voting ahead of the General Election on June 8.

Young people were most likely of any age group to discuss politics but felt alienated from the political system.

The poll found only 26% of 16 to 24-year-olds feel they have the option to vote for someone who "understands their life'' compared to half of the over-65s.

The younger age group was most likely of all ages to say they talk about how to make their community a better place to live and the most likely to discuss politics with friends and family at 50% and 64% respectively, compared 33% and 43% for over-65s.

A majority of 16 to 24-year-olds, (65%) said they want technology to be used to "give more power to citizens'' compared with 40% of over-65s.

Electoral Reform Society Scotland spokesman Jonathon Shafi said action had to be taken to tackle the "dangerous generation gap''.

He said: "This polling tells us that young people are far from apathetic. It is striking that they appear to discuss national politics and making improvements to their community or town more than their older counterparts.

"But it is also telling that they feel that politicians don't understand their lives. We know that older people tend to vote more, but we also see that young people want to embrace technology to give citizens more power.

"What's important about this is that young people appear to want to be able to connect their general political awareness and interest with power and decision-making.

"We have a generation who understand the impact of politics on their lives, but feel they need better tools to engage with it. A more deliberative approach to our democracy would aid this - involving citizens at every level in decision-making would go a long way to bringing people of all ages closer to politics.

"Alongside other reforms to improve our democracy, we have the chance to close this dangerous generation gap before it becomes unbridgeable.''

The poll surveyed 10,35 Scottish residents aged 16 and over between May 5 and 11.