Young people seem to be attracted by “different” types of politics. Whether it’s M5S in Italy, Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, Corbyn in the UK or Sanders in the US. Some support, even more ominously, the extreme right wing parties like in Poland or Greece. Moderate parties better take note and start working on the issue, or we will find ourselves ruled over by the likes of Trump, Korwin-Mikke or Grillo.
There seems to be one common thread: Millennials get organised and respond to issues online, whether on social networks or the likes of Change.org. This means that, if traditional politicians and parties want to reach them, they must do it on the media the Millennials choose.
Something striking is the age difference between the Millennials and the personalities they think best represent them: men in their late sixties or even seventies: Trump, Corbyn, Sanders, Korwin-Mikke, Kaczyński and Grillo are not exactly spring chickens! And those old men have even older ideas, although wearing new masks: illiberal democracy for the progressive ones, or just communism, fascism, nazism!
One of the reasons could be the realisation that all traditional parties seem to have the same policies, at base: one based on capitalism, international cooperation and globalisation. But then, when all is said and done, there are not that many choices. Greece’s Syriza was a typical anti-system party, elected to turn everything upside down in a country raved by the crisis for years. After much ado, posturing, insults hurled at the creditors and a referendum rejecting austerity, Syriza ended up by accepting even worse conditions than those offered initially. However much we may want to kid ourselves, communism and fascism have never produced anything even resembling a just and fair society or an affluent one. That’s why Grillo’s M5S in Italy and Podemos in Spain have opted (so far for Podemos) to stay out of government, even if they gained a sizeable proportion of the vote and received offers, repeatedly, to participate in a coalition. Is the rejection of democracy caused by the fact that, when all is said and done, there are not that many choices? Syriza was a typical anti-system party elected to turn everything upside down – and, after much ado, they ended up by accepting even worse conditions than those offered initially. However much we may want to kid ourselves, communism and fascism have never produced anything even resembling a just and fair society or an affluent one. That’s why Grillo’s M5S in Italy and Podemos in Spain opted (so far) to stay out of government, even if they gained a sizeable proportion of the vote and received offers, repeatedly, to participate in a coalition government.
What a contrast with the baby boomer generation, who wouldn’t be seen dead espousing “old” politicians and ideas, i.e. anybody above the age of about 35. The programme were, mostly, a fuzzy, feel-good make love not war. Unlike the current wave of protest candidates, borrowing heavily from communist, fascist and nazi ideas, rehashed and repackaged, spiced up by a liberal helping of conspiracy theories and hatred for target groups. This toxic mix seems to attract a disgruntled and, let’s say it, gullible protest electorate, going for the glitter, not the substance, seeking revenge for the feeling of hurt, rather than rational, workable solutions.
Is it because it’s a generation which grew up playing computer games, in which you can shoot up and blow to smithereens scores of baddies? Which was fed day in and day out films imitating computer games, where heroic feats happen every minute, with actors jumping out of planes and over buildings with no harm and visible effort? A generation addicted to reality shows, in which the baddies are really bad and you can vote for one baddy, to expel another one from the show? The tragedy is that, when you vote a Trump or a Putin into power, they tend to stay – sometimes forever – and inflict much more pain and damage in the real world, than even the worse baddy you meet playing a computer game, watching a film or on TV.
A poll shows less than half of young adults think democracy is the best form of government – but protest parties show many can still be won over