#GE2017 - Young voices count The first question was on how they felt about the snap election, whether it was too early or not? Their response was intriguing. “Early election is very good because we have someone new to represent us and we should have a say on who actually represents us” said Suraiya who is registered to vote. However, Kimberly who is ineligible to vote felt differently as she said that, “An early election does not give other people to vote like some of us are turning 18 this year and it doesn’t give us a say (voice) on which parties are going to represent young people. Kimberly’s point invokes a lot of questions on why 16 and 17 years can’t vote in a General Election when they can join the army at similar age. Should 16 and 17 year olds allowed to vote in a General Election? On other hand, Fahmida argued that an early election, “gives us at least a chance to choose who is going to be our next Prime Minister because we didn’t choose (vote) for the current Prime Minister.” The second question was on whether young people are represented enough in politics and it was interesting to hear as Shakeina argued that, “young people are not represented enough as they should be. They are seen as since you are younger you might not have as many opinions about the world because you haven’t seen what the world has to offer but we are the next generation.” However, Mona argued that, “we (young people) are part of the campaign because politicians are planning to give free school food to young children and scrap the institution fee”, before agreeing with Shakeina that young people are not represented enough. She suggested politicians should come to “us” young people and explain what they are doing for young people. Shalul further argues that, “there is a common thought that young people are oblivious to what’s going in the State (government) and because of this they (politicians) think they can do whatever and we (young people can just accept it. This means we are not being represented enough” It was interesting to hear all of them assent with another on the issue. Since they felt that politicians are not representing young people enough, the third question was on whether they, for those who could vote, were engaged in politics enough to make an informed decision. Almost all of them, who were registered to vote felt that they were not informed enough. They admit that it might be because they don’t, “honestly follow news”, and they heard of the General Election through social media. This raises question on whether young people are less engaged in politics because they are not represented enough or young people are not represented enough because they are less engaged in politics? Nevertheless, the timing of the election is rather unprecedented as it takes place when students are writing end of year or final exams. Fahmida argued that, “because of this (exams) I won’t be physically able to go out there and be informed about the election because I am focusing on my exams.” She makes a point but whether this will affect the turnout of young people’s votes remains to be seen. We also question the other two students who were no registered to vote to hear what they feel about it. They both argue that it’s not fair and they (the government) “underestimate” 16 and 17 year olds. Kimberly further argued that it’s not fair, “because the decision they are making are going to affect us young people and the next election is in four years which means you are not going to have another say until (the next General Election) in four years.” It does seem unfair for 16 and 17 year olds who are ineligible to vote but whether their vote would have made any difference to the election outcome is subject to debate. We finished of the interview by asking their suggestions on what politicians can do to ensure more and more young people are involved in politics. They all gave suggestions which could be effective if followed including politicians going to schools and talking to students, politicians going to youth’s clubs and debate on issues affecting young people and more representatives for young people. You can listen to the full interview including uncut sound bites on soundcloud by clicking the link below. The participants in the interview were as follows: Fahmida Bibi Ali, Shakeina Begum, Shalal Kasiy, Panashe Kimberly Mudhluyi and Muna Hussein.