Why is it important for young people to participate in elections?

African youth share an ideal, that of seeing their continent develop. A development that will allow it to acquire the status of an independent continent. The desired outcome is political, economic and social independence.  To obtain these outcomes, a country must evolve through the initiation of democracy and democratic processes.  

Achieving these objectives will require the participation of African youth. African youth must be nurtured and motivated to participate fully in democracy and development. Democracy is the first path to development, which is why the participation of young people remains crucial. However, due to the demonization of elections in Africa, many young people have developed voter apathy and have become reluctant to participate fully in the democratic processes including elections. We are calling on all youth in Cote d’Ivoire to join this initiative of participation in elections and democratic processes.

There is a generally chaotic historical narrative about elections in Africa. Indeed, most elections are deemed to be rigged, corrupt and sometimes end in conflict. Cote d’Ivoire is a country that does not remain on the sidelines of these findings. Better still, Cote d’Ivoire is an example of an African country whose electoral history is marred by acute violence and civil war; with social, political and economic consequences have not been fully addressed ten years after the conflict was resolved. In witnessing such a chaotic situation, the majority of young people have lost the desire to get involved in political initiatives. Because they do not identify themselves and do not feel represented by this approach to political participation and representation.  It is worthy to note that often, the youth are instrumentalized and used by politicians for personal gain during elections.

Speaking of identification and representation, the youth remain one of the most important actors in society. Their voices and their presence serve as an important stakeholder to societal development. That said, young people must be involved in all sectors that play a role in the progress of a country including politics.

Apart from the various criticisms and negative judgments about African politics, it remains an essential engine for the governance of countries. Let’s not forget that this policy needs reform given its recent history of ceding much needed democratic gains.

Let us take a look at the youth, indeed, the Ivorian youth account for 77% (Fraternité Matin) of all eligible voters in the country and therefore constitutes a significant portion of development actors in Cote d’Ivoire. Because of this, there are different reasons for the importance of youth participation in elections.

Young people in Cote d’Ivoire through elections have the opportunity to express their voices, to assert their vision for this country. As a civic obligation, it is important to engage in this kind of initiative to take part in building the future of CI.

Participation in the electoral process is a demonstration of citizenship and social responsibility including a registering a voice for social change and development. To vote is therefore to take part in the desired change and development. It is through this type of responsibility that young people can envision the future of their country and establish their social and political ideals.

Unfortunately, young people are used to being indignant and indifferent about the election results. Participating as young people in elections is showing respect for democracy. It is fighting against all the issues that affect the youth (Unemployment, Poverty, forced migration, enslavement etc.)

When young people participate in elections they open up this space which then allows them to organize collectively and share their political, social and economic vision together. They contribute to the change of opinions and perceptions on youth and thus cement their voice and presence as an entity essential to the development of the country.

It is easy as a young person to get lost when it comes to elections and especially how to choose the ideal candidate. Some want to vote but do not know who to vote for, others will not go because they do not see the importance and there are those who will want to vote but remain undecided on their candidate.

It is in this kind of framework that it.is important to set up youth forums, discussion groups to allow young people to be able to have a clear vision about elections. It is important to share the knowledge you have with your friend or others. It is also necessary as a young person to follow each candidate and become familiar with their programs, actions and activities to see if their vision for the country is possible and if it will benefit the population.

Participating in elections and staying connected to political activities remains a responsibility for every young African. Because we represent a treasure for this continent.

By (A. Kouami Carlos)

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