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Distribution of Election materials to polling centres across the country in progress as Bangladesh goes to polls on Sunday Dec 30, 2018. Photo: Courtesy

11th parliamentary election -2018

Young first-time voters in Bangladesh

The country is going to 11th parliamentary polls -2018 on Sunday amid expectation and frustration.  Sporadic incidents of violence at different places in different districts have meanwhile aroused fear and uncertainty among many voters, categorically those first time voters.

Against such  a backdrop , citizens of different ages will hopefully go to polling stations to cast their ballots in their respective regions. Meanwhile, pre-election  activities whatever, have made people psychologically poised to make a move to exercise their franchise.

Contrary to popular belief that our young generation is indifferent about politics, our universities, colleges and even schoolgoing children have proved in the recent past that they are not only politically conscious but also willing to play their part when it’s time.

This was proved during the recent quota reform movement as well as the road safety movement. Ahead of the 11th parliamentary election, young voters have expressed their thoughts to different newspapers and media outlets  which has helped one learn to some extent as to what their perceptions are about this election.

Some university students who talked to reporters on national polls have expressed their expectation  of a free, fair and level playing field in a bid to cast their votes.

They also said hat they don’t think there is a level playing field till now and that they are worried about violence erupting during the election.

What political analysts say is that young voters could play a deciding role in this election if they vote. In the last 10 years, the number of young voters has increased to 2 crore and 25 lakh. As per government statistics, currently 22 percent of voters are aged between 18 and 28. And in the upcoming election, 1 crore and 23 lakh young voters will vote for the first time.

Unemployment is the biggest issue for today’s young generation. According to government statistics, currently there are 27 lakh unemployed people in the country and although every year 20 lakh people enter the job market, new job opportunities are created only for some 13 lakh people. According to the ILO, within the last seven years, the rate of youth unemployment has doubled. So young voters will certainly consider voting for those who they think will actually address this problem.

According to political analysts, freedom of expression, access to information and technology, eradicating corruption, safety of women, and improvement of the education system are some other issues that concern young voters the most.

Although both the Awami League and the BNP have incorporated many of these issues in their election manifestos, whether or not their promises can actually attract first-time voters still remains a question.

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