Is that a very surprising statistic which has been released by YouGov last month? In December, the organisation had conducted a survey to discover which party was most popular amongst voters aged between 18 and 24. Labour came out on top with 32%, while the Green Party and Conservatives both came second with 22% each. The question asked was “if there were a general election tomorrow, which party would you vote for?” There is one particular statistic which fills me with confidence – the Liberal Democratic support has crashed from 37% in 2010 to just 5% in December. This of course was caused by the obvious – breaking the election promise of blocking an increase in university tuition fees. Students simply cannot trust the Lib Dems anymore and it’s amazing to see students across the country are abandoning the party after their highly controversial actions.
Despite this oddly high support for the Green Party, they continue to hold very few seats in Parliament due to the ‘first past the post’ voting system. There are pros and cons of this system, but ultimately the UK voting public (wrongly in my opinion) decided to keep the system instead of introducing Alternative Vote through the 2011 Referendum. Of course, the Green Party were one of the main pioneers during the ‘Yes’ campaign. Had the UK adopted AV, there would have been more opportunity for smaller parties to gain seats if no party receives 50% of votes in a constituency. The concept being that votes for second or third options will be allocated until one candidate passes the 50% mark.
However, with the current political climate seeing a rise for parties such as UKIP, many opposers to UKIP will oppose AV. Despite not getting a seat in 2010, UKIP had the fourth largest vote share. In 2015, some analysts have predicted that UKIP could even challenge the Liberal Democrats to have the third largest vote share, yet they would probably still only muster a few seats. Of course the anti-UKIP brigade will cheer at the thought, but in a supposedly democratic society, it seems almost unfair to allow such large numbers of votes to effectively be ‘wasted’.
Therefore, is a Green Party vote wasted? Should young people follow the lead of the older demographics by sticking to the established parties? My answer is no. The upcoming election is one of the most unpredictable and interesting elections for quite some time. I’d say it’s now 80% certain there will be a hung parliament on the morning of 8th May 2015. It will be the smaller parties which decide the balance of power for the next Government. Although it’s unlikely to be Green Party, since they might not gain more than a couple more seats, it’s important for democracy to vote for other parties. The public needs to make a statement to the three main parties that we are tired of their lies and broken promises. Who can we trust? Who is REALLY the best party to govern the country? We simply don’t know anymore and maybe voting for the smaller parties will be the wake up call which Labour and the Conservatives need.