Politicians should do all they can to encourage young people to take part in politics, Green MSP Robin Harper will argue when he hosts an event in the Parliament this weekend. (1) The Electoral Reform Society event, which will include contributions from visiting speakers and a mock STV ballot, aims to increase awareness about the new voting system and trigger debate about how young people can best be encouraged to participate in formal politics.

Robin Harper, Green MSP and Convener of the Parliament’s cross party group on children and young people, said, “I’m delighted to be hosting this event. It’s crucial that we encourage young people to take part in the political process, but we also have to find new ways in which they can do that. So many decisions taken by politicians have a huge impact on the lives of children and young people so they should have every opportunity possible to make their voices heard loud and clear. Hopefully this event will help achieve that.”

David Orr, Scottish Youth and Campaigns Officer with ERS commented, “This disengagement of young people from formal politics in Scotland is a major contemporary concern that threatens to undermine the credibility of the democratic process in this country. We feel that this disengagement relates much more to disillusionment than it does apathy.”

It is hoped that the new Single Transferable Vote (STV) electoral system, which will be used to elect local councillors in May 2007 may be one of the factors that helps to bring young people back to the polls. The new system offers voters more choice and should produce fairer outcomes than the first-past-the-post system it replaces. Every vote should now make a difference, including the votes of young people.


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