Voting apathy

  • HenrikeForschler,

    Especially so close to the elections – this is an important question to ask. Even though voting turnout in New Zealand in general is quite high – a decline can be observed. A decline- especially driven by young eligible voters, which seems to become stronger and stronger and also seems to be a worldwide phenomenon… But where does this come from?

    Are young people not interested in politics? Do they not believe their voice has an impact? These – among others probably would be the most to be heard. But does that make sense? Do they not see the importance of using your democratic right to vote?

    I personally cannot understand the notion of not being interested at all in politics and who is sitting in Parliament and I would not say I am a particular politically active person. The laws these people make impact on everybody if they like it or not – are new schools being built? Are there any changes in wages or your student loan? Saying that you are not interested seems like a poor excuse given the clear fact that everybody’s interests are on the line in politics.

    Many people argue that not voting is a tool to show you do not agree with politics and would like to see a change. Some even proudly brag about giving an invalid vote. Would it not be a bigger statement to really wrap your head around what each party does and then form an informed opinion and vote than not giving a vote at all?

    It seems that especially amongst young voters there are two sides – on the one hand there are the really engaged ones, who voluntarily inform themselves about politics and know exactly which party they would support. On the other hand there seems to be the majority at the moment– who does not care at all. If asked about policies, this group mostly would not be able to name any. They seem to not only be indifferent, but also be unwilling to spend time educating themselves around politics – it is a real voting apathy. The danger in that is that often people who do not vote when they are young, that they will never start voting.

    How can politicians or the public shake these young people up? Is it the politicians’ role or should schools and universities incorporate better techniques to engage young people in politics?

    Since Aug 2014 • 3 posts Report

4 Responses

  • Helena Rakitzo,

    Hi Henrike

    I totally agree with you on the fact that a lot of young people nowadays are not willing to put any kind of effort in getting at least a little overview on politics or parties in their country. I think people have very busy lifestyles and the little free time they have is mainly used for family or fun activities which is also totally understandable. We all have to do a lot of things we are not so interested or passionate about and politics has always been a topic not attractive to younger people.

    Politicians seem old and not capable of understanding issues and needs the young generation has. People want to see actual changes in their daily lives in order to see that their input was effective. A new government often feels like everything stays as it always was as major changes are difficult to implement and take a long time to be actually seen in our daily lives.

    There will always be people who are really passionate about trying to change something and those who have their own reasons to stay out of it. If I think about myself I cannot really see a way to get me more involved in politics as it is not really my area of interest. However I always voted for the party which came closest to my values and interests as I think every voice is important. Even if it may not change a lot you can express your opinoin by voting.

    Since Aug 2014 • 1 posts Report

  • HenrikeForschler,

    Hi Helena,

    Thanks for your response. It is right that people’s lifestyles get busier and busier every day. It seems that our use of modern technology and the instant transmission of communication accelerates our everyday lives. Like that it seems that no time is left after work obligations and fun time with family and friends. However I argue that especially young people are engulfed in social media activities for a high share of their day. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become our daily companions. With that in mind maybe it would be a good way to engage with the younger voters as well.

    However as you said politicians often seem old and this traditionally older generation might not know how to use social media channels to their advantage. But why can they not employ someone who does know his/her way around social media. On the other hand some politicians seem to have started to place themselves on social media platforms in order to get messages out there as well as to seem more human. In theory I think that is a good idea, but does it actually influence the young age gap’s voting behaviour?

    Another point being raised is that promised policies do not come into place after the election is over. Sometimes it seems that everything said before the Election Day is forgotten – keeping promises would be a good starting point to draw in more voters in general I think. Engaging young people with proposed changes in policies affecting their lives such as changes regarding student transport or student loans AND then actually implementing these would be a good start. Only when that happens people will start to believe that their voice actually has an impact.

    Since Aug 2014 • 3 posts Report

  • Franklin Vincent,

    Hello Henrike,

    Politics as a whole has never really been an interesting topic amongst most of the younger generation. Listening to political leaders give speeches about how things will never be the same once they have been elected all sound the same and that they will do their best in making the world a better place. The fact of the matter is that in the grand scheme of things, Most of the promises they make never get fulfilled. It's just something they all say to entice you, with their well written speeches which by the way wouldn't have been written by themselves. Politicians use their ability to manipulate words and put on a show claiming and marching with integrity only to get your vote so they can sit on the throne.

    I doubt there are politicians genuinely interested in being a public servant and doing exactly what the title states, which is serving the public and not using their authority and power for their own benefit. Today's corruption in the world makes it hard for one to believe that their "vote" actually does count for something and that one wont just end up being part of a community who has been brain washed to believing that their say actually does matter. The Freedom of speech and choice they offer is an illusion.

    The fact of the matter is that the majority of politicians only use their power for their own personal benefits. There are hundreds of articles about politicians spending tax payers money on everything but what the people really need. I'd like to be extremely optimistic about politics and get into large debates with strangers over politics and walk away thinking i know my "vote" is going to make a difference. The reality is that a drop of water is not going to wash away the corruption that the world is stained with.

    Since Aug 2014 • 1 posts Report

  • HenrikeForschler,

    Hi Franklin,
    You raise an interesting point when saying that politicians do not write their speeches themselves. Words always can be interpreted subjectively. From that perspective one could even argue that politicians themselves interpret the speech written by someone else quite differently than intended or that the writer of the speech interprets the views of the politicians wrongly?
    I do agree with you that today it is hard to believe that politicians are public servants as originally intended. However I think that assuming every politician only follows his/her own interests is a bit harsh. One probably always will hear about people abusing power – not only in politics. I do believe that even if it seems hard, one should hold on to the hope, that maybe their drop of water might be the one that – together with the others – does wash away at least some of the corruption as you call it.

    Since Aug 2014 • 3 posts Report

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