According to a study by Abacus Data, young Canadians — long assumed to be apathetic and uninvolved — were the driving force behind our country’s dramatic change of government in 2015.
Participation by young voters in the last election increased more than any other age group over the 2011 election: 67 per cent of voters aged 18-25 showed up at the polls, up from 55 per cent four years earlier. Breaking the numbers down further, 58 per cent of 18-20 year olds voted, as did 71 per cent of 21-23 year olds and 72 per cent of 24-25 year olds. And young voters’ preferences changed dramatically from one election to the next. In 2011, 36 per cent cast their ballots for the NDP, 24 per cent for the Conservatives and 17 per cent for the Liberals. But in 2015, those totals shifted: 45 per cent of young voters chose the Liberals, 25 per cent the NDP and 20 per cent the Conservatives.
So what motivated young voters to come out to vote — and to vote the way they did? The answers likely lie in the differences between the 2011 and 2015 electoral climate. While the Conservatives entered both campaigns as the governing party, in 2011 they had governed for six years with two minority governments, while by 2015, they had been in the majority for four years. That majority led the Tories to govern differently: one frequently got the sense they were packing in all the legislation they were unable to pass in the previous two minorities.
The Conservatives pursued an aggressive tough-on-crime agenda, went heavy on national security issues and were repeatedly criticized for being “anti-democratic” for crafting giant omnibus bills. For an electorate that hadn’t seen a majority government since 2003, Tory rule felt heavy-handed. For young people who are more disposed to challenge authority than their elders, it probably felt downright Orwellian — a message further drummed into them by public-sector educators, the media and the opposition parties.
Read the full article in the National Post here: In the 2015 election, the millennial moment arrived