We are living in a youthful world with almost half of the global population under the age of 25. As such, democracy requires the meaningful participation of young people. While young people make up a large portion of the voting-eligible population in Malawi, they are much less likely than those who are older to get out and vote.
Thus, fewer young people get to directly influence issues that might affect their lives for years to come. For many young people in Malawi, the world of politics seems far removed from their daily realities. Low voter turnout and dwindling membership in political parties, except for the very visible party vigilantes, has led to the conclusion that young people are disinterested in the political future of their societies. This becomes a missed opportunity on the part of the youth to affect change.
Now, more than ever, it is essential that young people take advantage of their right to vote, to create a future that aligns with their fundamental beliefs and set a precedent for future generations. The youth vote has the potential to be extremely influential in the country, as they constitute a majority of elegible voters.
Youths account for half of the voting population, as a result, this makes them a powerful political force. Moreover, since often-times, young people are hit hardest by recessions and other economic turmoils, they have the power to support and vote for the candidates whom they feel best represent their needs and aspirations. Better yet, youths must stand up and vote for their fellow young people if they want to see change that is in their favour.
Researchers argue that, in today’s tech-savvy world, there is no excuse not to vote because you do not know enough about candidates. In fact, one might find it harder to escape day-to-day political news than subscribe to it. WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc; have become as crucial as the candidate’s own websites for disseminating information about relevant issues. This online climate allows one to form a fuller picture of the candidates (though there are also lots of misrepresentations on social media).
The collective youth vote could sway the elections. The truth is that, as young people, we may not care now, but we might in 10 to 15 years to come. Young people may feel choosing a president, a member of Parliament or councillor is not something that affects their life right now, but think about the future. Yes, while we cannot predict who or where we will be then, we can be sure that political officials elected into office and the policies they implement will affect our life in the next coming months and years. So, why not have a say? Speak up, make an informed choice and take part in the 2019 Tripartite Elections to protect our interests.
Voters play a central role in shaping the government and their very futures. We should be the ones to shape our future, most adults do not understand the youth perspective. If we fail to vote, we are yielding the ultimate power to adults to make decisions about the leaders and laws that will shape and lead society for decades and we can be sure that those decisions will not necessarily be congruent with the youth perspective.
Above all, voting is an important right. We are lucky to live in a country that is a democracy, and it would be an insult to our forefathers and a let-down to our progeny to forgo our voting rights. The younger, the more involved we have to be. Our silence will lead us to dealing with the challenges longer. Let us break the silence and influence our political arena.
What political future would you like to see? Let us grab the chance to express our views. Let us be active in our democracy! The younger we are, the longer we will have to deal with the consequences of the forth-coming elections.
Let us break the misconception that youths are not interested in political matters. We have an opportunity to elect wisely ethical leaders. We have been given a ‘blank cheque” and only we can decide whether or not to use it. The ball is in our court.
Let us play it wisely. If you are above 18, register, follow the news and when election day comes, cast your ballot! n