Voter turnout in Greece has significantly declined in recent years, with the election held on 20th of September being a record low. Left-wing party Syriza won the election, a party who originally opposed the European bailout measure but radically changed their tune earlier this year.
Only fifty-six percent of eligible voters turned up to vote in the Syriza party and their leader Alexis Tsipras. This number is significantly reduced from normal turnout percentages, which usually stand around eighty percent.
As well as declining voter turnout, Greece continues to struggle with unemployment last recorded in May 2015 at twenty-five percent, the highest level of unemployment in the European Union.
Youth (ages 18 – 35) unemployment is also a huge issues with on average since January 2014, fifty-two percent of young people being out of work in Greece.
Tasos Papachristodoulou, a thirty –one year old medical engineer from Athens believes that youth unemployment and disengagement with the political system is a factor in lower voter turnout.
“Most (of my friends) don’t vote because they are frustrated. You see it’s the first time that ‘leftist’ have come to power and they expected something better from the. You know I think that nothing better has happening, and things are worse than ever,” said Mr. Papachristodoulou.
Mr Papachristodoulou believes that non-voters are just has powerful as voters, as they highlight that there is something wrong with the system and people aren’t engaged.
“The non-voters must unite and claim their rights. We are the fifty-six percent, that’s more than any other voting percentage the parties received – we must demand that something must change,” said Mr. Papachristodoulou.
In a article published in 2014 called The Myth of Youth Apathy: Young Europeans’ Critical Attitudes Toward Democratic Life” suggested that young people in Europe don’t vote because they believe the political parties are inadequate and that they system excludes them.
“Young people are willing to engage politically but are turned off by the focus and nature of existing mainstream political discourse…… which many believe excludes them and ignores their needs and interest,” the authors* said.
With the high levels of youth unemployment in Greece it is easy to see, how young people can become easily disenfranchised by the political system and therefore choose not to vote.
*Journal Article: Cammaerts, B., Bruter, M., Banaji, S., Harrison S. & Anstead, N. (2014) The Myth of Youth Apathy: Young Europeans’ Critical Attitdues Towards Democratic Life, American Behavioural Scientist, 58(5), p. 645-664