Political parties and young voters
The number of citizens aged between 18 and 25 who were eligible to vote in the last elections was around 9 million. This number will surpass 10 million with those who will vote for the first time in the elections on June 24.
This age group makes up nearly 20 percent of the voters.
Despite the fact that they make up a very significant portion of the votes I have not found a recent scientific study on what they read, what they listen to, how they “hang out,” what they talk about when they meet up with friends, and what they like and don’t like. I haven’t come across a study on how the youth approach politics.
Even if they look like they are interested, political parties remain insufficient in coming up with analyzing the young population aged between 18-25 and initiating strategies that reach out to them.
This might explain why the votes the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) received from young people remain low in comparison to the general outcome.
They value their freedoms
There may not be enough studies on them, but it’s still very easy to observe their behavioral patterns through their daily lives and social media, where they spend much of their time.
You might know if you have a youngster above the age of 15 at home that freedom is the most important value for them.
They don’t like anyone telling them what to wear, how to style their hair, what they eat, read or listen to, their choice of friends, and how much they should work or get paid. In short, they don’t want people interfering in their lives. They dislike any attempt to manipulate them.
They get upset when they feel they aren’t trusted and when people don’t realize that they, too, are now individuals who can differentiate between right and wrong.
The arrest of Ezhel, a case in point
No matter how much you close them off, with the smart devices they have, they can access the entire world.
You may have seen in book fairs or conferences in schools or shopping malls. Young people form long queues to get a selfie with their favorite YouTubers.
We are not even aware of them, but these youngsters have millions of followers. The interesting videos that they prepare and post on their social media accounts get watched and shared by millions of young people.
They earn more money than their parents.
I’ve conducted a small survey on the young people around me. I asked what they have been talking about most these days. The answer that I got was the arrest of the rapper Ezhel.
It was the first time I had heard of him.
But his popularity among the youth is bigger than I thought. I found the song that got him arrested on charges of “encouraging drug use.” It was watched 31 million times on YouTube and listened to 13 million times on Spotify.
When I checked again before writing this column, the numbers hit 33.3 million on YouTube and 14.4 million on Spotify in the course of five days. In other words, while Ezhel was in prison, his song had been listened to 4 million more times.
His arrest has been a matter of freedom for young people.
This may sound ambitious, but if political parties promise freedom to the youth and gain their trust, they could get more of their votes. The first step could be to unfurl a banner often see in Ezhel’s concerts in a campaign rally that says “Let the youth play.”