In practice, all matters that are important to students are decided in the bodies chosen by elections. Whether it is the European parliament, the Finnish parliament or the local council of Tampere, people are making decisions for us in all these places.
One of the biggest issues for students is that young people’s voices are far from the heart of the decision-making. The average age in the local council is 47 years, 51 years in the Finnish parliament and 54 years in the European parliament. This has a direct effect on how well our voices are heard.
The heart of the problem is, that young people don’t vote as actively as the older generations. The situation is the worst in the elections of the European Parliament: only 10 percent of the 18-24-year-olds voted in the last election. A lot of matters that are very important concerning our future, are outlined on the level of EU, for instance about environmental politics and right now these outlines are made by voters and representatives who are in their sixties.
Quite many young people think that they don’t know enough of politics to make a decision about who to vote. Our message is that yes, you do. If you have even one thing on your mind that you wish to change, you can find your party and candidate based on that. Or if you know at least one candidate or party, that you would never vote for, you can vote for anyone else. With the way that the Finnish electoral system works, an unused or an empty vote is basically a vote for all candidates equally – even for the candidate you hate.
Voting matters even if your own candidate doesn’t get elected. It always sends the message to the candidate, that their thoughts are supported. It encourages to continue working on important matters.
The advocacy of the student union also needs that same support. Our opportunities to influence decision-making and to make the students’ opinions heard is directly dependent on what kind of people sit in the parliament in the next term of office.
So vote. It matters.
To help you: Allianssi’s voting aid application that has questions only relevant to young people
TREY’s #yoursolution series is a part of SYL and SAMOK’s #koulutustaprkl election campaign. The three main points of the campaign are climate, education and livelihood. More information about the national campaign can be found here.