Millennials are more disillusioned with democracy than any generation in living memory, research suggests. A majority of the world’s young people may now be dissatisfied with the political system, according to a study by Cambridge University’s Centre for the Future of Democracy.
This article highlights via three students, how they feel the culture of politics needs to change to cater towards and how they should recognise the needs of the younger generations more successfully.
Words by: Shivika Singh
Democracy, a system of government in which power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or through elected representatives, hails the civilian authority. Growing up in India, the world’s largest democracy, a sense of liberty, equality and fraternity would enthrall me on merely hearing this word. My identity as a citizen and rights as an Indian are vested in this term. Flipping through the pages of history, marked with feudalism and totalitarian rule, democracy gives the modern world a novice approach of self-reliance and equality.
In recent times, democracies across the globe have drawn criticism for violating its basic principles. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, US President Donald Trump are among a few Heads of States, accused of undermining democratic values and rooting to fascist temperament. Since the ground-breaking victory of Narendra Modi in the 2014 General elections, India has witnessed dominance of Hindu Nationalism and religious intolerance. Government policies like the Citizenship Amendment Bill and provision to introduce a National Register of Citizens have been fundamentally discriminatory. This was also perceived as a desperate attempt to change the social fabric of the nation which is not only unconstitutional but also challenges the democratic values of equality before State and Law. A rise in attacks on minorities and journalists was seen as a consequence of growing intolerance. The state itself has aggressively turned down dissent and peaceful protests. Students, activists, journalists and recently even farmers were subjected to resistance and arbitrary arrests for exercising their right to assemble and protest freely, which is an integral part of a democracy. As a result of these policies, India saw a steep decline in its ranking on Democracy Indices.
From the attack on the US Capitol, incited by President Trump to headlining anti-democratic rallies by Bolsonaro, the sanctity of democracy was let down by authoritarian leaders across the globe. The youth today desires independence, participation and a greater say in the government. The progressive generation wishes to move beyond prejudices and inequality towards a more peaceful and egalitarian world. The culture of politics must evolve to cater to the youths’ envision of politics and society.
Written by: Zahra Nadeem Ahmed
Being a full-time third year undergraduate student in a pandemic my disappointment with the political system is very current. Millennial students have become the ‘forgotten group’ of the Coronavirus pandemic and rarely get their issues addressed by the Government. And when a response has been given it has been substandard to say the least. For example, this morning I received an email in response to a petition I signed in October calling for the tuition fees of University to be reduced to £3000. The answer unfortunately was an expected one; “Tuition fee levels must represent value for money and ensure that universities are properly funded”. To me this is another way of the Government saying ‘Millennials are snowflakes and should get a grip’. With cases of bad mental health and suicide creating a parallel pandemic for the millennial generation, the Government are just not doing enough.
The only way this can change is for people in power to understand and empathise with the problems modern day students and millennials have to face. Boris Johnson (our Prime Minister) received a free education at Oxford, where he was more concerned about joining the Bullingdon Boys Club than trying to get a part-time job to pay off his loans. I would really like to see someone in a position of power who goes beyond writing an email or giving a 8pm address on the BBC. Going forward, I am calling for a more diverse representative government that incorporates all walks of life in society. Right now that is just not the case, leaving us millennials silenced and ignored.
Written by: Chloe Chapman
Personally, I think 2020 has been one of the hardest years to find satisfaction within the UK Government. From the start, we had the whirlwind of the Brexit negotiations and now just the entire handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has not exactly left me happy with the government. I could discuss the general delay of action (and how it took 9 months for UK arrivals to present a negative test result) or the neglect of lower-income families, many of whom have been hard done by and are struggling to feed their families (big shout out to that Tory rejection of free school meals), but I think my main disengagement with the government this year has been the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
I’ll set the scene. It’s summer, Covid appears to be on the decline and we are finally ‘allowed’ to see other households. For many students, I imagine we restarted at our pub/restaurant jobs as we rely on the income throughout term-time. I’d call it both a blessing and a curse that my pub chose not to partake in the scheme as my landlord didn’t agree with it. A blessing because, I agreed. Summer is always an incredibly busy time and with people being cooped up inside for months, everyone would have already been eager to get out, have fun and spend money. So, the idea that this would ‘restart the economy’ baffles me as surely with standard summer business it was not a good idea to further encourage people to crowd and swarm into these places in the middle of us recovering from a pandemic and, at that time, without a vaccine? The stress of trying to help manage the chaos and work through this was hard enough. But then, the audacity for the government to then blame our second wave on people meeting at these places angers me, because they endorsed it. This combined with their other failures throughout the pandemic, such as the expensive and incompetent track and trace system, and their inability to have responsibility for this has really devalued my faith in government.