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Youth abstention Direct democracy in danger?

In Switzerland, young people vote less than older people: is this a threat to direct democracy? (RTS/

Abstention among young people is not a recent phenomenon and it’s far from being just a Swiss problem. But when it comes to controversial votes, the matter becomes more serious. Like in the case of the so-called mass immigration vote in February 2014. The initiative presented to voters seeks to curb migration by introducing foreigner quotas, and gives priority to Swiss nationals when it comes to filling vacancies. Only an estimated 17% of the under the 30 years expressed their opinion.

Should important decisions like this, which impact on the future of the country, be taken mostly by older people?

Geneva has taken concrete steps to get young people more involved in the voting process, using their language, their tools and their communication channels. A comic strip has been produced, and a short film competition organised to incite young citizens to go to the polls.

But many people believe the tide will only truly turn when the voting age is lowered to 16 all over Switzerland, following the model of canton Glarus.

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