Event to put spotlight on political participation ahead of 2015 General Election

Should 16 and 17 year-olds be given the vote? That will be a topic up for discussion among prospective parliamentary candidates as part of a Nottingham Trent University conference examining political participation ahead of the general election.

Should 16 and 17 year-olds be given the vote? That will be a topic up for discussion among prospective parliamentary candidates next month, as part of a Nottingham Trent University conference examining political participation ahead of the general election.

The conference on 4 February will also explore dwindling commitment to national politics and mainstream political parties across Europe – and increasing susceptibility to radical 'anti-system' parties.

Academics from across Europe will present their research at the event – Citizens, Parties and Political Action: Political Participation and the UK General Election 2015 – which takes place in the University's Nottingham Conference Centre.

It will include panels covering the emergence of new parties across Europe and the UK, as well as challenges of political participation in relation to class, ethnicity, gender and age.

The conference will culminate in a roundtable discussion asking whether 16 and 17 year-olds should be allowed to vote. Prospective parliamentary candidates from across Nottinghamshire are expected to take part, along with figures involved in youth citizenship and youth politics.

Who they will vote for – and indeed whether they will vote at all – is at this stage an open question.

Professor Matt Henn, Nottingham Trent University

The conference has been organised by the newly-established Citizens, Parties and Political Action research group, based within Nottingham Trent University's School of Social Sciences.

"The 2015 UK General Election promises to be the most unpredictable contest in the modern era," said Matt Henn, Professor of Social Research at Nottingham Trent University.

He said: "Westminster parties are under threat from rival parties emerging from the margins. The electorate has fallen out of love with the political class, and citizens are looking for parties to offer clear solutions to bring an end to austerity politics and the hardships, risks and uncertainties that they have faced in recent times.

"Who they will vote for – and indeed whether they will vote at all – is at this stage an open question. Our conference will provide an ideal and timely opportunity to discuss cutting-edge research that considers all of these issues. It will ask questions about how the health of British democracy might be improved, and whether there are possibilities to fix the developing rift between citizens and mainstream democratic politics."

The conference follows previous research by the University which shed light on young people's disengagement with politics. As part of the year-long study, researchers found that almost two-thirds of young people had little or no trust in politicians and believed that political parties were only interested in getting votes.

Findings released by the University last year, meanwhile, suggested that the introduction of compulsory first-time voting would not help to engage today's teenagers in politics, or create good voting habits in the future.

Event to put spotlight on political participation ahead of 2015 General Election

Published on 27 January 2015
  • Category: Research; School of Social Sciences

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