Apathy or Antipathy?

Youth Apathy is a large in the UK 18-24 year olds represent 12.1% of the UK population. But somewhere between the proportion they represent in society there is a disparity that appears to those who are interested in politics. There are many reasons that could be offered as an answer, here are some suggestions-lack of interest-which is borne out of the belief that they can do nothing to influence the political process. Also, a lack of identification with those people in power, brought about as a result of the disenchantment with the political decisions that are made. These are just a few possible reasons which explain low participation amongst young people.
It has never been easier to further an interest in politics. The news is easily accessible through the click of a button, news websites or even just following news channels on twitter for bitesize insights into the issues of the day. It is no longer necessary even to access a computer to do so. Utilising the means available has never been so easy, it is clear that the young are the most technologically literate having grown up with computers and mobile phones. So how can there be such a lack of interest in Politics when it’s so easily accessible. Well for many their lack of interest is linked to the belief that they cannot influence the political system in any way, as a result apathy develops. Britain is a representative democracy it is often criticised for being an elective dictatorship as the only time that the electorate truly have a say is at election time. Once the government are elected they are effectively free to do what they wish, with the public having little say until the next General Election is called. Unlike in the USA where recall elections take place if a state is not happy with their governor or representative or even senator they can call for them to be removed by holding an election. In addition the USA has midterms which are a very clear indication of how the public feel that the government are performing. The Government is not accountable enough to the electorate hence a lack of interest develops from the perceived lack of influence on the political system is a large reason for the political apathy of young people.

‘Pale, male and stale’ is a phrase often used to describe the government of the UK. These characteristics white, male and middle aged describe most of the members of Parliament in the UK.

Young people are much more accepting of change and having been brought up in a culturally diverse and cosmopolitan society, they are more likely to be inclined to desire this in their government. With a more microcosmic government young people could be more interested in Politics. This is linked to the concepts of descriptive representation versus substantive representation. Descriptive Representation argues that the government should be representative of society in the proportions of groups within society. Whilst substantive argues that it is more important that the decisions made reflect the wants and needs of society. Therefore it could be argued that youth apathy is high because young people do not view themselves as being represented by members of their own group and as a result decisions made do not reflect their needs. For example tuition fees, a cited example, many students and young people voted for the Lib Dems on their flagship policy-to abolish tuition fees, once elected this was abandoned and they were in fact trebled. It is questionable as to whether a decision such as this would have been made if more young people were to have been directly involved in the political process. Instances such as these serve to explain why young people are so disenchanted with politics.

In conclusion the political culture needs to change if it is to involve young people.Technology needs to be utilised more, maybe the introduction of e-voting or online adverts by candidates explaining what they stand for. In the technological age young people are impatient and restless, they want action fast, they want concise information and they want to get their views heard. If none of these things are in place who can blame the young for their apparent apathy?

BY: Yasmin Levy-Miller