Politics

Uncertainty surrounds critical youth vote ahead of Mexican midterm elections

By Ines Amarelo

Mexico City, May 20 (EFE).- More than 25.6 million young people are eligible to vote in Mexico’s largest-ever midterm elections on June 6, a demographic group that supports greater equality for women and minority groups but is seen as a wildcard due to its cynicism about effecting change at the ballot box.

“I’ve realized after several years that it doesn’t matter who you vote for,” Iñaki, a 23-year-old who acknowledges his scant interest in politics, told Efe.

Even so, when asked about issues near and dear to his heart, he mentioned feminism, LGBT rights and the eradication of organized crime-related violence.

“Young people are bringing about a change that I think is very important … It’s important that we generate it because at a given moment I want to think we’ll be in a position to generate even bigger changes,” he added.

Like Iñaki, 25,687,082 other young people between 18 and 29 are eligible to vote in the upcoming legislative elections, accounting for around 30 percent of all eligible voters.

Many, however, feel their concerns are ignored by Mexico’s political elite.

“We all know the majority of the population in Mexico is young,” even though the political power structure may appear to ignore that fact, Martha Singer, a political scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), told Efe.

“They don’t concern themselves with (young people’s) agenda or their problems,” the expert said, adding that the parties also fail to capitalize on the willingness of many young people to get involved in electoral politics.

The ruling Morena party is preparing to face off on June 6 against the big-tent Va por Mexico (Go for Mexico) coalition, which is made up of the once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the two parties that used to be its main adversaries: the center-right National Action Party (PAN) and the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

In interviews with young people on the street, none of them said they completely identify with any of the parties and most feel no connection to institutional aspects of politics.

Asked to name Mexico’s biggest problems, they mentioned femicides (gender-related killings of women) and a lack of sufficient job-creating support for businesses.

Valeria, 17, said it also is important for people to “be more open” to differences, while 22-year-old Alvar stressed the need to protect the rights of the LGBT community and women, as well as provide employment and opportunities to Mexico’s youth.

“There are young people who want to get involved in the parties, and yet they end up stuck with tasks of lesser importance, with tasks where you need cheap labor,” Singer said, adding that the parties are squandering an opportunity.

Young people “have a lot of clarity, a lot more information than you might think. Just look at the girls who are leading the (street) demonstrations for women’s rights.”

Many young people went to the polls in 2018 inspired by the so-called “fourth transformation” project of then-candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who won the presidency in part by appealing to that segment of the population.

Singer said that since taking office the head of state has promoted programs that allow students to pay for their education through a combination of part-time work and government assistance, an effort to keep young people out of the clutches of organized crime gangs.

She added, however, that while it is too early to assess the impact of AMLO’s policies she has not yet observed truly palpable results in terms of the opportunities offered to her students. EFE

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