May 22, 2022

The impressive political “disaffiliation” of 18-24 year olds in France underlined by a study

The question comes up with the approach of each electoral deadline: will we see the young generation making the trip to the voting booth? The presidential election of April 10 and 24 is no exception. While more than a fifth of 18-24 year olds shunned the ballot box in 2017, a survey entitled “a plural youth” published Thursday, February 3 by sociologists Olivier Galland and Marc Lazar, on behalf of the Institut Montaigne, a neoliberal think tank, sifts through a broad spectrum of political and societal concerns and questions, implicitly, the possibility of a record abstention.

“A significant proportion of young people do not recognize any connection with a party or a political trend, either by ignorance, or by disinterest and perhaps also by rejection”, argue Olivier Galland, emeritus research director at the CNRS, and Marc Lazar, professor of sociology and history at Sciences Po.

Based on a panel of 8,000 young people aged 18 to 24, put together by Harris interactive, and two other “mirror panels” of 1,000 respondents each, corresponding to the generation of parents and grandparents, sociologists highlighted the“impressive political disaffiliation” of a large part of this age group. This “disaffiliation” is even what most differentiates 18-24 year olds from the two previous generations, argue the authors of this survey that The world was able to consult in preview.

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87% abstention in the regional

Of the flood of statistics gathered, some illustrate the phenomenon better than others. Thus, 43% of the young people polled say they do not have ideas specific enough to position themselves on the left-right scale, and 55% cannot indicate a partisan preference, either because they do not know enough about the parties (36 %), or because none corresponds to their choice (19%). And this applies to all political parties: the case of Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV) is “symptomatic” notes the investigators: although ecology is a concern recognized as major by this category of population, barely more than one in ten declares to feel close to this party.

“My name is Liam, I am 23 years old, I am an art student and I come from Saint-Claude (39), a small town in the Jura. Already as a black man, I don't feel represented at all. (…) I'm tired of justifying myself for my trans identity. At the political level, I believe that the candidates have barely understood the issue of networks and that politics can also interest young people. In reality, it is not the youth that is losing interest in politics but rather politics that has been losing interest in youth for a very long time. (…)”

Generation effect or age effect – in other words, a lack of civic experience? MM. Galland and Lazar ask the question. They are not the first to do so: while abstentionism among those aged 18 and over has been observed for at least twenty years, other researchers and historians have, before them, looked for possible explanations in the lack of citizenship education at school. Or in the crisis of major political representations and in the impoverishment of partisan narratives that resulted from it.

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