So, Theresa May, ignoring her various promises to not call an election, has called an election. As soon as this was announced, a chorus of groans erupted across the country.
If like millions of young people you feel that voting is a waste of time, we’ve drawn up five major reasons why you should register to vote.
1. It’s your democratic right
If you’re above the age of 18, you live in the UK legally and you aren’t in prison, you have a legal right to have your say in who will run our country. In an era in which our right to privacy, and our rights as workers, are under threat, we should all feel comfortable in exercising our fundamental right to tell politicians what we want from them. Just like you have the right to freely practice a religion, or to speak your mind, or to receive a fair trial, your right to vote should not be one you pass up, in celebration of it not being infringed.
2. Believe it or not, you will make a difference
In the 2015 Election, Byron Davies was elected as Conservative MP for Gower on a 0.1% margin of just 27 votes, and Chris Matheson became Labour MP for Chester with just 93 votes more than his closest competitor. The average constituency size is roughly 70,000, but turnout is often much lower, meaning that individual votes carry even more weight. In Gower, if just 28 extra people out of the 62,373 eligible voters had decided to vote for Labour’s Liz Evans, she would have become their MP. At a time when politics in the UK has never been so fractured and divided, tiny margins like these are more likely to occur. As such, it is crucial that everyone sees that they could well cast the deciding vote in their constituency. It is therefore more important than ever for them to register to vote and make a difference.
3. Voting is a privilege not available to everyone in the world
In our safe, western corner of the world, it is easy to criticise politicians for their mistakes. But we often forget that the mere ability to even speak out against our leaders is a privilege that most people in the world do not get to enjoy. Just 19 countries in the world are categorised as “full” democracies, with the rest classified as a “flawed” democracy, a “hybrid” regime with little democratic activity, or a full-on “authoritarian” system. As such, only ~12% of the world’s population have the right to vote in a full democracy. Those in Authoritarian regimes such as North Korea, Syria, Chad and the Central African Republican have very little to absolutely no say in who runs their country. Therefore, those in the UK who dismiss their right to vote because they “don’t believe in our system” or feel that “none of them represent me anyway” should think about the thousands who died trying to obtain democracy across the world, and eat humble pie, remembering that democracy is a luxury that 2.3 billion people are comprehensively denied.
4. If you don’t vote, you can’t really complain about the result
Everyone loves to complain about politicians. But if you turned down the opportunity to prevent the very politicians you despise so much from attaining office, you are complicit in their success, and part of the problem. Barring revolution, the only way to remove from power the politicians you hate is to vote them out.
5. The outcome of this election will profoundly affect your future
2017 is a General Election unlike any other because the result is directly linked to not only how our own country will be governed, but how our future with the EU will be decided. Whatever your political loyalty, the way you vote on 8th June, and the eventual victors from the election, will determine our relationship with Europe. The 2016 referendum demonstrated just how passionate millions of us are about the EU, whichever side of the debate you fall on. Now, a year later, we must again send a message to the people who work for us in Westminster: this is what we want you to do. Whether you as a Brexiteer feel passionately about the need for the retention of sovereignty, or as a Remainer you feel strongly about the need to retain the benefits that membership provided, the 2017 Election is an opportunity to express opinion beyond the binary yes/no choice we were offered in June 2016.