Politics popular with youth: poll

DESPITE talk of disillusionment with politics among young people, a poll suggests that just 6% will not use their vote in tomorrow’s election. The SpunOut.ie Big Online Election Poll found 2% propose to vote but spoil their vote, another 2% will not vote but concentrate on ‘bottom-up social change’ and a further 2% won’t vote because they are “not bothered”. 

The poll found younger, tech-savvy Irish people’s voting preferences are very different to those demonstrated by recent opinion polls, with Sinn Féin selected as their preferred party by 32% of voters. 

The mainstream political parties scored poorly, with Fine Gael and Labour on 16% and 17% and Fianna Fáil trailing at an all-time low of 6%. An interesting contrast is that of the newly formed United Left Alliance who, despite not fielding candidates in many constituencies, polled higher than Fianna Fáil with 8% of votes. 

The Green Party came in at 3%, which challenges claims that it has strong support among younger people, perhaps due to its participation in a government that has left record youth unemployment, emigration and college fees as a legacy. 

Commenting on the results, SpunOut.ie founder Ruairí McKiernan said young people are increasingly engaged in Irish politics. 

“Our poll suggests that the youth vote may be key to understanding the future of Irish politics. 

“Ireland has one of the highest populations of young people in Europe who are disproportionately affected by shamefully high unemployment and emigration rates. 

“They are increasingly engaged, angry and active and are without a doubt set to break away from traditional voting patterns which will ensure the beginning of a new era in Irish politics,” he said. 

By Conall Ó Fátharta

www.irishexaminer.ie – 24/02/2011

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