bear witness to the democratic crisis

Excerpt from the “world” | “The gap between young people’s expectations and the political proposals put to them is a real democratic challenge”

Why did about 40% of 18-34 year olds not vote in the first round of the presidential election, while 80% of retirees did? How do you explain that these young people voted massively for Jean-Luc Mélenchon? Elements of reflection with Laurent Lardeux, sociologist specializing in the politicization of youth at the National Institute for Youth and Popular Education (Injep).

How do you explain the fact that more than four out of ten voters between the ages of 18 and 34 avoided the ballot box?

The first round of the 2022 presidential election confirms the trend that has been observed for thirty years, ballot after ballot, towards a new form of political participation by younger generations, which has already been amply documented. For these young people, civic engagement requires just as much engagement “Direct” in associations or movements than by a vote every five years. Voting is often no longer seen as a duty, but as a right that young people use when the issues and political debates meet their expectations and needs.

However, since the health crisis, young people have been severely affected by precariousness and are particularly sensitive to environmental and social justice issues, for example. These concerns have not been central since the beginning of the election campaign, one could have expected an even stronger abstention, as was the case in the midterm elections.

It’s hard to say what will happen for the second round. Nevertheless, the discrepancy between the expectations of a politically demanding youth and the political proposals put to them, whose abstention is significant, is a real democratic challenge for the years to come.

How does the level of education affect voter turnout and the votes of young people?

The less qualified you are, the less inclined you are to vote, because on the one hand the sense of legitimacy is weakened more with shorter graduates; on the other hand, because they feel less well represented by politicians and candidates who are often contradictory in every respect in terms of their living or working conditions, their social background, their living space.

We don’t vote for anyone who looks like us, but some communities may feel ill-represented by politicians who find it difficult to consider the oppression they suffer in their daily lives. Which can end up being either abstention or that form of voice challenge I was talking about, by selecting candidates who strategically present themselves as anti-system in an electoral-recovery logic of that anger.

Also read: “The gap between young people’s expectations and the political proposals put to them is a real democratic challenge”

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