Young voters matter

People line up to vote during the 2014 General Election. Picture: FILE/ 2014

YOUNG voters, it seems, could very well become a critical element in the lead-up to the 2018 General Election.

At least two parties reckon so.

Opposition Leader and Social Democratic Liberal Party candidate Ro Teimumu Kepa, while urging voters to stay away from “small parties”, believes young voters could eventually determine the government after November 14.

Interestingly, while urging supporters to become ambassadors for the party, FijiFirst general secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum noted that “most of the people who are here and go to most political party meetings are over 40”.

Young people, he said, “don’t come to meetings. They’re on this (phone) and Facebook, of course that’s why there’s a lot of lasulasu on Facebook too”.

“So you have to go and talk to young people too,” he told supporters at a party rally at Tuvu, Lautoka, earlier this week.

While addressing party supporters at a SODELPA campaign meeting at Qauia Village in Lami on Thursday night, Ro Teimumu said it was important that voters understood the 5 per cent threshold. Only three political parties, she said, went into Parliament after the 2014 General Election because they met the threshold.

Ro Teimumu told supporters that voters between the ages of 18 and 50 years made up 70 per cent of the voting population in the upcoming election and their votes were vital for victory. “Your votes will determine the government that will come in after November 14,” she said.

Ro Teimumu called on party supporters to talk to relatives between the ages of 18 and 50 years to be part of the election process.

Sometimes some young people, she said, just follow their peer groups and decide to all vote for one party without understanding the importance of their vote.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum urged supporters to go out and talk to people.

“What we expect is all of you who are here, we expect you to become the ambassadors for FijiFirst. Please become ambassadors,” he said. A lot of the young people now were about 13 years old in 2007, he said.

“Today they are 25-year-olds and don’t know any better. Starting from the time they sort of became a teenager, they only know this Government and this prime minister. So they think that what somebody else is coming around and saying may be good, but they don’t realise the entire history of what has happened in Fiji.”

The scenarios place our young voters on a very high platform.

The fact that 22 per cent of voters are still undecided, alongside 10 per cent who had declined to answer the question on voting intention sets a very interesting scenario indeed. With two major parties raising the platform of young voters, the coming week is going to be quite intense, it seems.

Certainly interesting times ahead.

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