Boost in youth membership of political parties during pandemic

This turnaround is surprising because in recent years fewer and fewer young people wanted to join political parties. © Keystone / Urs Flueeler

The youth wings of Switzerland’s major political parties saw a significant increase in membership in 2020. 

This content was published on April 13, 2021 - 10:02

The trend can be seen on both the left and the right of the political spectrum, according to data published on Tuesday by the Tamedia media group.  

“We have seen a sharp increase since the start of the pandemic,” said Ronja Jansen, president of the Young Socialists, the youth wing of the leftwing Social Democrats. 

Jansen’s party welcomed 750 new members last year, an increase of 10% on the previous year. In general, the rate of increase is usually around 1%, Jansen said. She attributed the increase to growing inequalities and the desire of many young people to change this situation. The Centre (formerly known as the Christian Democrats) gained 530 members, double the number of the year before. 

However, environment-focused parties didn’t manage to benefit from the windfall. The Young Greens did not quite sustain the growth recorded in 2019. They enrolled 737 new members last year, compared to 913 the year before. The Young Liberal Greens meanwhile gained 673 new members in 2020 compared to 1,173 in 2019. 

There are also signs that the trend of more youth participation in politics is continuing into 2021. For example, the youth wing of the Radical-Liberal party has registered 300 new members since the beginning of this year, as many as in the whole of last year. The People’s Party youth sections also reported hundreds of new members. 

The turnaround is surprising since in recent years fewer and fewer young people have wanted to join political parties. According to political scientist Lukas Golder, many young people have become more aware of how politics works as a result of the pandemic.  

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