By George Gilson
It was SYRIZA that gave 17-year-olds the right to vote but New Democracy picked up the largest percentage among voters aged 17-24 in the recent European election beating the ruling party by about two percentage points.
In the campaign leading up to the 7 July general election, ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis made clear that he will do anything he can not to lose them.
Mitsotakis has indeed made the youth vote a central part of his campaign, pledging to the social group with the largest percentage of unemployment well-paying new jobs and blasting the government for handing out benefits instead of backing the youth with programmes and incentives for employers to hire them.
It appears that the promise is enough to instill hope and that the last four years under SYRIZA have aggravated a sense of desperation among the country’s youth. Any alternative to the present may seem better, especially when it pledges swift economic growth.
ND pledges, prospect of some change stirs hope in youth
The data show that the conservatives have managed to make impressive inroads among the youth, despite the fact that its 16-page summary programme does not devote a single page to challenges and problems confronting Greek youth, who obviously view the party as the only prospective alternative to a dismal present.
In the 26 May European Parliament elections New Democracy garnered 27.2 percent of the vote in that age bracket compared to SYRIZA’s 25.3 percent (still a very strong percentage if one considers that it lost the election by over nine percentage points).
That is a triumph for New Democracy if one considers that in the 2015 general election in the 18-24-year-old age bracket ND garnered only 16.5 percent compared to a whopping 42.9 percent for SYRIZA.
ND did even better in voters aged 25-34 who have recently entered the labour market beating SYRIZA by 5.6 percentage points (26.5 percent compared to SYRIZA’s 20.9 percent).
In 2015, ND trailed SYRIZA by 13.8 percentage points.
From social media to latenight TV
ND has marshaled every trick in the book from the social media to late night TV and meetings with groups of youth in the provinces.
He has resorted to rare self-deprecating jokes and has attempted to exude a less arch and more convivial image in contacts with young people.
That has included meetings with younger people and pronouncements about support for start-ups.
That includes tax incentives, insurance contributions, and bolstering start-up capital with EU funding.
BBC speaks of youth shift to conservatives
A BBC report by Athens correspondent Jessica Bateman in a report on why Greek youth have turned to the conservatives interviews 20-something voters recorded the malaise and disappointment.
Notably, the interview does not have any quotes from even a single youth who will vote for SYRIZA, even though the ND-SYRIZA spread in this age bracket is not very large.
«I’m not proud of their [ND] social policies to be honest, but I truly believe that if we make an effort to improve the economy then social liberalism will be easier to implement in future,» 22-year old Tasos Stavridis who will vote for ND told the BBC.
«The truth is, I blame them [for the crisis] too. But I believe Mitsotakis has made a lot of changes. I agree with the economic plan this party has, and I believe it will help us escape this situation,» he added.
Zoe Babaolou, 19, who will also vote for ND told the BBC: «We voted for the ideology in 2015 and we didn’t see any changes. So I’m more interested in the economic measures,”
“This sense of cynicism is obvious when talking to young Greeks. Outside a coffee shop in the leafy Athens suburb of Kifisia, 19-year-old Giannis Reklos says he is voting New Democracy because ‘they are the best out of the worst’,” the report concludes.
το BBC σε αναλυτικό ρεπορτάζ του αναφέρεται στους απογοητευμένους από τον ΣΥΡΙΖΑ νέους ψηφοφόρους που «γίνονται πιο συντηρητικοί». Οπως γράφει η ρεπόρτερ του βρετανικού δικτύου Τζέσικα Μπέιτμαν, «ο κυνισμός αναδύθηκε από τα χρόνια της επαναστατικής ρητορικής, η οποία δεν συνοδεύτηκε από ορατή αλλαγή».
Ο Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης, εξάλλου, δεσμεύτηκε (Σκάι) για στήριξη και της νεανικής επιχειρηματικότητας, σημειώνοντας ότι συναντά «καταπληκτικούς ανθρώπους, τριαντάρηδες, σαραντάρηδες, οι οποίοι δημιουργούν στην Ελλάδα, εξάγουν, είναι εξωστρεφείς. Αυτή είναι η μαγιά πάνω στην οποία θα πατήσουμε». Ο ίδιος χαρακτήρισε ενθαρρυντική «για τον πολιτικό μας λόγο» την πρωτιά της ΝΔ στις ηλικίες 17-24 ετών, τονίζοντας ότι επένδυσε σε μια άμεση επικοινωνία με τη νέα γενιά «μιλώντας τους για τα ζητήματα που τους απασχολούν περισσότερο».