The turnout of young people in the last parliamentary elections was low. These voting campaigns are aimed at young people who want to do something about that. “Life experience does not depend on age.”
Although the age of Dutch politicians is not as high as in the United States, with an average age of 48 years in the House of Representatives, there is also a lack of youth representation here. As the turnout of young people has declined since the last elections, the gap between youth and politics only seems to be widening. Digital youth campaigns are trying to close this gap and are committed to getting the youth to the polls.
Voting by mail
Where the turnout for the 2017 parliamentary elections was more than 80 percent, one in three young people between the ages of 18 and 24 stayed at home. But the turnout is not only low, young people are also the smallest group of voters. Due to the aging of the population, the number of older people compared to young people is increasing. For example, nearly a quarter of eligible voters are over the age of 65. In the upcoming parliamentary elections, an even larger turnout is expected among the over-70s, because they are allowed to vote by mail due to the coronavirus.
Young people quickly vote for the party for which their parents vote, without them looking critically’, says Iris Zoet, who started the podcast KiesAdvies with her friend Isa de Beer in September last year. ‘All political podcasts are about current events, which you don’t understand if you don’t have background information’, says Zoet. ‘Isa came up with the idea of listing what all parties stand for and explaining that in a podcast.’ According to Zoet, young people do not see themselves and the subjects they deal with in the House of Representatives. “And when those topics are covered, it’s in a dusty way,” she says. “That’s why we don’t want people on our podcast that you already see everywhere.”
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In addition to a podcast, Zoet and De Beer on Instagram have started the campaign #stemopeentwintiger. In it, they call for the youngest candidate of a party to be voted for, so that he or she gets preferential votes in the House of Representatives. One of those young candidates is Carline van Breugel for D66. She also tries to encourage young people to vote for a young candidate, by offering an overview of which young people are on the candidate lists. In addition, she is active on TikTok. “A lot of politicians aren’t there,” she says, “because a lot of young people who are on TikTok aren’t allowed to vote yet. But also for people who are not yet allowed to vote, it is important to know what is going on.’ Politicians who want to be more active on TikTok may click here to leverage the platform.
Van Breugel wants to emphasize that, although her campaign revolves around young people, she also lacks representation in other areas. As portfolio holder diversity of the Young Democrats, the youth branch of D66, she often notices that people avoid the subject of diversity for fear of using the wrong words. ‘I want to create a safe space for white people. In addition, I am bisexual and I want to go to a country where you no longer have to come out of the closet in four years.’
The public broadcaster has also set up a voting campaign for young people. With #zetjestemnietopmute, NPO 3 Funx and 3FM have joined forces to bring young people and politics closer together with ‘accessible, funny and at the same time informative content.’ Another initiative is that of the Electors. These young men organize large interactive shows and create podcasts to educate a young audience about social issues and elections.
With the criticism that young people do not have enough life experience for politics, candidate MP Carline van Breugel does not agree. “Life experience is not related to age,” she says. ‘Understanding the starting point of the group is important to make policy that is in line with young people. It’s a stereotypical argument.’