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9 February, 2005

Political apathy amongst young people is 'a myth', says new research

Findings from new research on behalf of the Electoral Commission claim that not only are young people not politically apathetic, their interest in political issues is in fact growing.

In a survey of 1,000 young people, 81 per cent of 16-20 year-olds said they felt strongly about political issues such as crime and education. Asked how they would have felt at that age, only 57 per cent of 21-25 year-olds said they would had strong opinions.

The research results, released yesterday to mark the launch of the Hansard Society's Y Vote mock elections 2005, also say that:

- 73 per cent of 16-20 year olds discuss current affairs and issues with their friends and family, over 10 per cent more than the older group did at that age (62 per cent);

- asked what measures they would take if a political issue arose that affected them personally, 80% said they would sign a petition, 52 per cent would contact a politician, 48 per cent would take part in a demonstration or rally, and 42 per cent would boycott a service or product. 39 per cent (four in ten) would campaign for a political party and 35 per cent would join a political party.

"These findings show that Britain's young people are far from apathetic about the issues that matter most to their lives", said Sam Younger, Chair of The Electoral Commission.

"We know that young people often feel disengaged from democratic life, and we believe in working creatively to encourage their interest and participation."

The Y Vote mock elections, organised by the Hansard Society, aim to engage students actively with the electoral process in the run up to this year's elections. In participating, pupils learn about the political, social and moral issues of the world around them in a fun and interesting way, whilst supporting National Curriculum requirements for Citizenship Education.


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