Quality of political class and portrait of voter at local level. IPN debate

The young people’s participation in local elections is at a very low level, primarily compared with the turnout of older voters who are the most disciplined ones and ensured a 80% turnout at the November 5 local elections. There are many reasons for such a phenomenon, said experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Quality of political class and portrait of voter at local level”.

Veaceslav Ioniță, expert of the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives “Viitorul”, said the turnout of voters on November 5 was very low and the number of persons who voted in the elections was the lowest in the country’s history since the declaring of Independence.

“Unlike the parliamentary or the presidential elections, the diaspora doesn’t vote in local elections. Here we had about 260,000 people who didn’t vote. It was the lowest turnout, except for 2007, when we really had a lower number of voters. In the local elections, the presence is lower than in the parliamentary elections. It is by 20% lower, but this is partially due to the fact that the diaspora doesn’t vote. But even if we exclude the diaspora, those who are in the country vote in a lower number than in the parliamentary elections. One thing is illogical as the mayor and the local council are the authorities that are the closest to the citizens. So, these should be most interested in the local elections. Secondly, the women who are in the country vote more actively, by about 6% more than the men. We have 150,000 young people aged between 18 and 21 who had the right to vote for the first time. Out of these, 50,000 are not in the country. The young people in the recent elections had a much lower turnout than in the previous elections. I refer to people younger than 25,” stated Veaceslav Ioniță.

The expert noted that the profile of the voter has changed. “In 2014, the average age of voters was 43. Now it is 49 and is coming closer to 50. The number of young people decreases, while of older persons, who are more disciplined, increases,” said Veaceslav Ioniță.

The mayor of Țîpala village of Ialoveni district Silviu Bivol in the debate said the number of young people who voted in the local elections in their commune was low because many of these are outside the country. Instead, the total number of voters in their locality in 2023 was higher than in 2019.

“In 2019, there were 1,600 voters, while this year the turnout was over 1,800. Owing to the turnout, we also obtained a better score as we gained over 71% of the ballot in the first round. We have three polling stations in the locality and the turnout of voters at each of these stations was higher than in 2019. The voters were mainly older persons. The young people voted, but in an insignificant number as many of them are abroad. There were young people who voted for the first time as they wanted to exercise their right to vote,” stated Silviu Bivol.

As to the young people’s participation in elections, Valeriu Sainsus, expert in population and demographic issues, said that the lack of political education and the full negligence of the state, including of political parties, are among the causes for the lower voter turnout.

“The interest comes from the older persons. They most of the times expect that welfare will be ensured by the new authorities. Therefore, the older persons are more interested in voting than the young ones. The level of political education is also low. The school cannot cover all the areas or cannot develop political culture in citizens. Also, the young people in generations are two times younger and they are also fewer in each generation. It’s true that the activism among young people is at a lower level, but these risk being not taken into account when the local and central governments are formed,” stated Valeriu Sainsus.

According to the demographer, the interests of people is greater when the central administration is formed rather than when the local administration is formed as the comfort and wellbeing are ensured by those who make laws.

The public debate entitled “Quality of political class and portrait of voter at local level” was staged by IPN as part of the project “Stimulation of discussion in the mass media about traditional particularities of local elections and the need for Europeanization” that is supported by Soros Foundation Moldova.

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