Parties treat young people as electoral prey. Whenever a party or a leader lands on TikTok and promises bonuses, mimicking a parody of youth language, like Mr. Burns did in The Simpsons in the episode where he pretended to be a student, he’s not really trying to meet our needs, but just chasing our grades. Young people as an “object”, never as a “subject”.
Monday 12 September, in his DataRoom on the He would run, Milena Gabanelli accounts forabstention of young people between 18 and 34 years old. It analyzes the data from 1992 and goes up to 2018. In 1992 the general abstention rate was 13%; among young people the abstentions were “only” 9%, compared to 20% of those over 55. In 2018 there is a complete reversal: abstention increases indeed among all age groups (27%), but among young people squirts to 38%; among the elderly it stops at 25%.
What are the factors that have led to the departure of young people from politics in the last 30 years? The “depoliticization” of the whole society. It was not only the rate of electoral participation that fell, but that of political participation as a whole. Being a teenager in 1992 meant having a political adolescence. Today the landscape has changed radically and the challenge of politics is not just to gather votes / consensus, but rather to build participation and popular leadership.
There is a growing mistrust in traditional institutions. Often overshadowed by utilitarian narratives that if you study, if you commit yourself, if you sacrifice yourself at work, then one day the doors of success will finally open for you. This is a success that this company is incapable of guaranteeing economic stability even in its simplest form. The promise “betrayed” today gives way to disenchantment. The “magnificent and progressive fates” for entire generations simply no longer exist. There are those who say that there are not enough “young” politicians, but identification is not just a question of age. Think of Sanders (USA) and Corbyn (UK), not really youngsters, and their results exceptional among young people, both in terms of voting and all-round political participation. The key lies in the power of their projects to excite and involve. To offer the hope of being able to achieve necessary transformations.
Finally, perhaps the most important factor: if you are precarious, you vote less, with a abstention which rises to 38%. It is difficult to understand why the 360,000 young people between 20 and 29 who today earn less than 876 euros a month (13% of the total) should give their trust to the same political class that in the last 30 years has approved the Jobs Act, precarious work and abolished Article 18, giving them this condition of poverty and absence of horizon. 62% of those under 24 who have a job also have a fixed-term contract. One in three young people between 25 and 34 falls back into part-time or involuntary fixed-term contracts. Which translates to poverty – as well as in precariousness. Among those between the ages of 18 and 34, there are 2 million people in this condition. Even 388 thousand join both: an involuntary part-time with a fixed-term contract.
Big babieslosers, choosy, “Divanisti”, “people with no desire to work”. These are the epithets with which the media and the Briatore on duty speak of us. We would leave home very late compared to the Scandinavians who at 18 “bye bye” to mom and dad. Here it is done on average at 30 years because we are “mammoni”? Or maybe because the work here is poor, precarious and one room – not an entire apartment! – to Milan costs 620 euros and do you start with internships with a salary sometimes below that figure? “The second you said,” Quelo would say.
The second mantra is that in Italy there are few children. True. But read Virginia’s words: “Find out you are pregnant, you are happy; a moment later worried because you work for a small company. Go out of your way to keep going to work, even when your job is incompatible with a pregnancy. One morning you wake up and have to run to the gynecologist for a placental abruption. And then you get sick. But they still keep you working from home. Every month to get the salary you have to ask, because always late. You must continue to pay € 140 for private gynecologist, morphology privately € 180, supplements € 40 every month. Give birth, you are happy. But when the baby is 3 months old you have to go back to work. They make you feel guilty if you stay home because your child has bronchiolitis at 2 months, if your child gets Covid at 4 months, if you have to take him for vaccines “.
Young people vote with their feet, leaving Italy and looking for a better life elsewhere. Young people vote by abstaining. There is no need for commercials or empty promises. We need to take on the problems of a system that has reached the stage of collapse and is dragging us all with it. We need projects that build the ransom not with a mere electoral program, but with political practice, when there are elections but especially when there are not. Solutions are needed, starting with the everyday. Because “words teach, examples drag”.
Transparency note: the blogger is a candidate for Politics on the Unione Popolare lists