Culture and Society democracy

Published on November 15th, 2015 | by anouar hassbaoui

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Youth and Political Participation: Diagnosing the Problem and Bridging the Gap

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By: Flah Loubna

Associate researcher

The involvement in the realm of politics emanates from the imperious need to operate a significant change in society. Though the number of young people holding decision-making positions remains low, young activists are often the ones who spearhead demonstrations and protest movements that reshape public policies. Youth display a distinctive stamina in denouncing injustices and promoting equality in society. Yet, their direct involvement in the process of election and voting is timid. In a number of developing countries, youth choose to distance themselves from the conventional patterns of political participation due to the feeling of infectiveness overriding the practice of politics. The present article addresses the reasons undergirding youth’ torpor towards politics. It suggests also practical solutions to reconcile youth with politics.

Political Participation

Political participation refers to the processes by which individuals make their own judgment about political leaders and public policies manifest. The emancipation of citizens in either directly or indirectly into the act of public governance is the bedrock of democracy itself[1].

  1. Direct Political Participation

Elections play a pivotal role in the enforcement of democracy through the organized expression of the popular will. It is based on the premise of political representation as a practical and fair mode of governance. The elected officials are expected to defend the interests of their constituencies and to enact the promises made during their electoral campaigns. The legislative institutions elected are entitled to promote the public interest by ensuring prosperity and safeguarding rights.

  1. Indirect Political Participation

The indirect forms of political participation include the methods by which individuals show their interest in politics away from the mainstream channels of decision-making namely protests, petition and NGO’s work. The widespread access to the masses availed by Social networking represents a tipping point in political activism. It offers a practical and available platform for youth to express their opinion about public policies away for censorship and restrictions. Social networking in particular favors the possibility of mobilization by rallying non-affiliated activists around a common cause, a dynamic form of activism that political parties fail to offer.

As a matter of fact unconventional ways of participation are often preferred when the conventional patterns fail to prove their efficacy in changing deficient policies. The affiliation to NGO’s is much sought by youth in their bid to adhere to the political life. A survey undertaken by the Moroccan organization 2007 DABA on a population of 1200 people showed that 70% have a keen interest in politics. While a number of youngsters think that voting is instrumental in the enforcement of democracy, a fair number refrain from voting.

The Royal Institute for Strategic Studies( RISS) states a host of factors underpinning the growing reluctance of youth to cast the ballot namely political apathy, indifference towards politics, discredited politicians and the absence of a direct interaction between candidates and potential voters . Having said that, the survey[2] issued by the RISS in 2006 unraveled a low rate of affiliation to political parties and union amidst Moroccan youth. It showed that 96% of the youth included in the survey had no political affiliation. On the other hand an increasing number of youth join NGO’s operating in the promotion of social rights, freedom and Human Rights.

Restoring Confidence in Politics

It takes a large scale reform to revamp the interest of youth in politics. Education plays a major role in sensitizing young citizens about the preeminence of political participation. Civic education is liable to boost students’ knowledge about the political institutions and the proceeding of the electoral process. The feeling of nationalism that is bolstered by civic education is susceptible to enhance the sense of commitment to national duties.

The reluctance to take part to elections amongst youth is largely owed to the glass ceiling that bars the way for ambitious members of political parties. Indeed, the lack of internal democracy in political parties puts a brake on youth’s enthusiasm toward politics. As a result, the inefficacy of their membership deters them from taking part actively to the political process.

Needless to say that the inability of governments to deliver their promises and the absence of accountability systems are major impediments to the commitment of youth to politics. The indifference to politics amongst youth should be seen as a symptom of an unhealthy political environment that cultivates political cynicism and disempowerment. The democratization of the political milieu in which policies are issued and enacted is susceptible to revive the youth’s appetite for political pursuits.

References

Political Participation”. http://www2.fiu.edu/~milch002/CPO3643/outlines/participation.htm
RISS ( Royal Institute for Strategic Studies) . “Lien social au Maroc : quel rôle pour l’Etat et l’ensemble des acteurs sociaux ? ». Web 05 November 2015.http://www.ires.ma/sites/default/files/jeunes_et_participation_politique_au_maroc.pdf?access=1

[1] « Political Participation ». http://www2.fiu.edu/~milch002/CPO3643/outlines/participation.htm ( you do not have to write the tile on the beginning just the web site link is enough
[2] RISS ( Royal Institute for Strategic Studies) . “Lien social au Maroc : quel rôle pour l’Etat et l’ensemble des acteurs sociaux ? »
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