Today, more than 1.6 million young people have the opportunity to vote in a general election for the first time, and contrary to the mantra circulating across social networks, they will not vote in droves for the far right. At least, experts and the latest June Center for Social Research (CIS) pre-election poll agree on this thesis, which puts those of Abascal only fourth in voting preference among those aged 18-24, at 13%, behind PSOE (22.8%), PP (19.5%) and even Soumar (14.9%).
Of course, in that age group, Vox has the highest percentage of voters. It’s also true, or so sociological polls say at least, that the lowest age group is the one with the least vote at the start of a campaign, and that can be a volcano of surprises: in June it was barely 46%, compared to 77% or 78% of the two immediate higher.
“Young people are interested in politics, but they don’t find a story in the established parties.”
Young people are interested in politics. What they don’t find is a story in the existing parties,” assesses Ernesto Pascual, Ph.D. in political science and professor at Universidad Uberta de Catalunya (UOC). Hence, it is the electoral sector that gives the program the greatest importance, at 49%, above factors such as the candidate or voting against, according to the latest urgent survey conducted by the CIS on July 17. A Youth Council report published on July 11 supports this notion. 89% of young people aged 14 to 34 They say they are interested in politics: “a lot” 55%, “somewhat” 34%.
But a majority of 59% disapprove of the current system, compared to 41% who feel “somewhat” or “very” represented.
The same report shows that the issues they care most about, in this ranking, are housing, working conditions, mental health – from which they have suffered particularly from the pandemic – and the climate crisis. “Young people’s desire is to solve problems, not to inherit them. They are radically opposed to politics and consider today’s political game poor, without in-depth discussions on issues that are tolerant for them. They do not want to inherit all this deteriorating system – reflects Xavier Martínez Celorrio, Professor of Sociology at the University of Barcelona (UB) – and for this reason they desire a more participatory and creative politics, with experiences of good practices.”
A distrust of politics is one factor that might lead one to believe that Vox will grow among young people and, of course, among those who are debuting before the ballot box. “Young people’s vote for Vox embodies part of the politics of abstention because it is the most anti-political vote,” says Martínez-Cilorio. “But if the vote becomes big, it is because it is an unprecedented phenomenon that has taken us all by surprise. It is an identity vote for masculinity, heterosexuality, anti-feminism, that highlights masculine pride in the face of political correctness, often against a background of great ignorance, and this cocktail catches our eye very much.”
Xavier Martinez Celorio
“The youth vote for Vox is taking over part of the abstention policy because it is the most anti-political vote”
Detachment from the system (not politics) has another variable, in which Martínez Celorio and Pascual agree, which is frustration with regard to the moment of change announced by the 15-M (it was in 2011), which “did not meet the expectations generated”, according to the first of the two. “It was a great mobilization of young people, they chanted ‘They don’t represent us’. This was directed against the verticality of the traditional parties. Young people prefer more horizontal structures, which they learn at school and university, where issues are discussed and decided on in the field, and the first podemos were born in this scheme and assembly and as a new way of doing politics, but when they start to become institutionalized and become a vertical party, the separation begins,” Pascual analyzes.
Roger Soler y Martí, professor of political science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and researcher at the Institute of Government and Politics Públiques, adds that “Young people tend to look for new electoral spaces and new parties tend to communicate better than traditional parties, but in the case of Vox this is not the case, because on many big women’s issues, therefore there are a lot of new generations on the agenda, such as the old rhetoric or climate change. With them. It’s an old game”.
“Young people are always anti-establishment and what they see in Vox is anti-conformist, a transformative, revolutionary party. Like in their day, JONS or Communist Youth,” Pascual recalled. When it is revealed that a change in political direction has occurred, it is attributed to the new voters and does not have to be as such. The shift to the right of the youth vote has not really been caught,” Soler Martí abounds.
CIS data shows that approximately 51% of young voters have a “very bad opinion” of Santiago Abascal, a number that is 18.7% in the case of Yolanda Díaz. On the other hand, those who have a “very good opinion” of Diaz and Abascal are, respectively, 3.3% and 5.7%.
“The left has problems with recruitment more than before: they have lost the great space for political socialization that was the factory, and then the family, as you learned from your father, who was a worker like you would later become… This has faded, because it is likely that your life will not follow the same path as your parents, and because of the globalization and devolution of large workplaces, which has benefited right-wing and neoliberal analyses.”
“Fox is a bubble fueled by networks,” says Martinez-Cilorio. 41.5% of young people ages 18-24 say they learn about political affairs (including campaigning) primarily through social networks, a figure that drops to 32% in the next group, 25-34-year-olds, according to the CIS. The Youth Council report points in the same direction. 46% of young people have consumed political content on Tiktok in the past week. Not from parties (only 9%), but from “people who talk about politics” (37%). The younger, the farther they go influencers . Between 14 and 20 years old, 50% reported this way.
“Vox is so adept at using social networking and dirty manipulation techniques, they’ve been schooled in American institutions in Steve Bannon’s orbit. They use all kinds of propaganda recipes to discredit the left. They destroy the truth, it is easy when there is a plurality of channels without control. They are looking for an unobtrusive democracy, “So Martinez Celorio laments. Let’s not forget that Rajoy abolished citizenship education. We have structural deficiencies in the educational system in matters such as history, tolerance or poverty. The new propaganda takes advantage of forgetfulness, ignorance and the reduced role of public schools in the formation of critical citizens,” says the University at Buffalo expert.