Having carried out the largest survey of first-time voters in Europe, two academics from the University of Gloucestershire have found apathy is first past the post for younger voters.
Evidence gathered from more than 2000 18 to 22 year olds during the 2001 and 2005 elections show how voting has decreased amongst this age group.
Dr Dermody, Reader in Consumer Psychology, and Dr Hanmer-Lloyd, Reader in Marketing, also found that levels of trust in MPs and government have declined, and young people feel increasingly alienated from politics and cynical about politicians.
Their findings show that this has led to a decline in their voting behaviour, with only one third of this group actually voting.
“This has a considerable impact on the democratic legitimacy of any ‘elected’ government,” said Dr Dermody, who leads the Centre for Research in Consumption, Culture and Communication at the University of Gloucestershire. “Instead of voting, young people appear to act in other political ways. They are more likely to be involved in protests and boycotts, thus changing the way democracy will work in the 21st century.”
A similar survey, exploring first-time voters’ attitudes will be carried out immediately following the 2010 general election. “It will be interesting to see whether this situation is getting better or worse,” added Dr Dermody.
Source: The University of Gloucestershire