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Not only do youth vote, they also represent their own

Helen Berents writes in The Conversation (24.6.16) about the significance of the youth vote in this federal election, and argues that, despite the advent of digital platforms for political expression, issues of importance to younger voters are largely sidelined in the nation’s political discourse.

‘When we talk about young people and politics, it’s usually to discuss young people’s supposed disengagement with formal politics.

‘However, young people are more disenchanted – rather than apathetic – by current political behaviour. This disenchantment often manifests in non-enrolment, non-alignment with parties, participation through issue-based politics, and involvement in protests.

‘If we talk about engaging youth in politics, what is normally meant is policy consultation and mechanisms such as youth parliaments. Rarely is the election of young people to formal political institutions discussed. This absence is notable for what it tells us about generally held conceptions of young people and prejudices against their age and supposed competency.

‘Yet young people do run for public office. In some cases – like that of Wyatt Roy, who was elected in 2010 at age 20 – they win. So why do they involve themselves and what is the response when they win?’

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