Are young people disengaged from politics? 

Not voters, but activists 

Young people are politically engaged… differently 

The media and political leaders constantly repeat that young people are not interested in politics. At MIJARC Europe, we believe otherwise. We are well aware that the young people we reach are often trained in various political issues (at local, national, or European scale) and that we do not represent the majority of young people. We do not claim to be representative. Moreover, we believe that youth is not a unified block that can be easily encompassed with a term and some data. Yet, we refute the idea that young people are turning away from politics. Why? Because this preconceived idea is based on the (undeniable) fact that young people are voting less and less, and that in many European countries, the Gen-Z (16-25) and Millennials (26-35) are the age group that abstains the most. Yes indeed, but…  If there is one thing that the Fridays for Future have taught us, it is that young people are well aware of the major political issues on which their future depends (the climate and biodiversity crisis and all the social issues that come with it), and that they are massively ready to commit themselves to these causes. Youth are interested in politics, they are politically engaged, but their engagement takes different shapes than the traditional electoral one. At MIJARC, each of the activities we organize is an opportunity to meet young people from different countries, from different backgrounds, all committed in their own way to various causes. 

The scarecrow of social networks

We often hear, with quite a lot of maliciousness, some adults mocking the young people of the “Twitter/Instagram generation” or worse, the “TikTok generation”, which would be a youth fakely engaged behind screens, disconnected from reality and which would commit the terrible crime of linking serious topics and “easy” modes of communication. Indeed, social media are a mode of communication with certainly a great number of defects (we know that the imperative of fast reactivity without taking a step back can represent a real danger for the democracy) but they also join the masses, and are thus particularly effective educational tools when it comes to raising awareness on important political topics. 

How about both? 

We can question our democratic system in many ways. As a matter of fact, we should always question it, and we do. This is at the core of MIJARC identity, to always challenge the status quo. We can agree that our current democratic system is not satisfying: we can question representative democracy, the focuses that are chosen during pre-elections campaigns, the lack of active participation from citizens, etc. But at the end, we shall remember that the people who are elected become the keepers (or the offenders) of our rights. They have in their hands a tremendous power that wegive them. Even more importantly, they hold a decisive power over the rights of people who cannot vote. This is a responsibility we have to protect them and therefore, voting is an even greater duty. Participating in the democratic system in place by voting does not in any way undermine acting to change this system. The two are not incompatible. Better yet, they are mutually responsive. It becomes our mission, as young people who try to occupy the political field as best we can, to fight against the passivity and disgust of people of our generation for politics as traditionally practiced. We have to repeat as much as possible that we want another system, to push even more for more democracy, but always make sure that we do not leave it in the hands of a few people.   


The most dramatic mistake our generation could make would be to consider the rights they always had as assured forever. Simone de Beauvoir said “Never forget that a political, economical or religious crisis will be enough to cast doubt on women’s rights. These rights will never be vested. You’ll have to stay vigilant your whole life.” The predictive nature of this phrase was recently illustrated when the US Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Calf. But this quote could fit for many other fundamental rights that were won over decades or centuries of fight for social justice. Our generation must never sleep on those rights and always remain vigilant, ready to defend them. Voting is not a duty simply because “our ancestors fought for this right”, but because there is no guarantee of it for our generation and those that will follow.