This crisis is having a devastating impact on young people. We are facing a loss of learning through school closures, with the least well off being most affected with education depending on digital access, undermining work done to bridge the gap in education inequality. Graduate job offers have been lost, and young people are leaving education at all levels into one of the worst recessions in decades, further entrenching intergenerational inequality. And this will not be the last crisis we face during our lifetimes. However, the interests of young people are so often overlooked when it comes to elections.
Earlier this week Liberal Democrat MP, Wendy Chamberlain, secured the first debate in the House of Commons on electoral reform since 2016. Westminster’s broken political system is shutting out people who “need their voices heard now more than ever” during the coronavirus pandemic, and we will continue to work to change that. We believe that some of the voices that most urgently need to be heard are those of young people.
At the start of this month, the Senedd and Elections Bill came into effect, meaning that (amongst other things) 16 and 17 year olds can now vote in Senedd elections. We still have a long way to go to extend the franchise for local and Westminster elections, but this is a fantastic step towards a more equal politics and ensuring more voices are heard.
To celebrate this step forward for Senedd elections, we asked our members why votes at 16 matters to them.
Please join us on the 18th June at 7pm for a Q&A with Welsh party members on how to support young people getting involved in politics.