• Fine Gael target the young but is it genuine or are they phoning it in?

    Ireland.com has information on Fine Gael’s plans to target young people over the course of the summer;

    A campaign to encourage more young people to vote was launched today by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

    The Young Fine Gael (YFG) initiative will use advertising at summer music festivals to encourage voter registration.

    Large billboards on the back of a van will be displayed at events like Electric Picnic and Hi:Fi.

    “Decisions are made by those who turn up and Fine Gael wants to ensure that every young person who is eligible to vote can automatically do so”, Mr Kenny said.

    Mr Kenny said that his party wants to see automatic voter registration at the age of 18 by using the RSI system.

    “The more young people that get involved in politics, even just through the simple act of voting, the better it will be for everyone,” Mr Kenny said.

    I’ve spoken before about the need for real engagement by political parties with young people and this campaign at least shows some effort is being made but frankly some bubbly-looking posters will do little in the real world.

    One problem here is that this is a Young Fine Gael campaign and not a general Fine Gael one; surely the purpose of a young political spin-off party is to encourage political discourse amongst the underage populous; but once that young person turns 18 they are into the realm of “real” politics with regular political parties? As far as I’m aware Young Fine Gael does not run candidates in any elections so why on Earth is it running an election campaign?

    The main issue however is not on minor details like the campaign backers or the “cool” image that they try to portray it is instead the lack of clout a campaign like this has. It’s one thing to tell young people to register to vote but why should they if you cannot give them a real and tangable reason to? Someone aged 18 doesn’t care about pension policy and they certainly don’t care about Household Protection Bills; if anything they’re more concerned with getting a house in the first place, never mind protecting themselves in it.

    If Fine Gael really do want to bring in the youth vote (and it is an untapped market that could have huge sway next year) it should state it’s policies that concern young people today, not just the ones that will effect them in 10 or 20 years time. Education, housing, the cost of running a car, career prospects and job security, the cost of living and so on. As I’ve said before, it’s no point in providing young people with radical and popular policies when they visit Young Fine Gael; they’re not the party that will be in Government. Attracting young people with young-friendly policies from Young Fine Gael is a sly marketing tactic that leads people to believe you actually care about youth issues, when the actual politicians have bigger fish to fry.

    It’s a nice idea from Fine Gael but it will only prove worthwhile and honest if the party are prepared to speak to the youth of this country, not at them.