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Ditch the party politics to keep young people interested

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Scottish Youth Parliament chair says harnessing young people’s political enthusiasm should transcend party politics

The chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament has called for the major political parties to work together to keep young people engaged in politics.

Speaking after youth from all over Scotland voted to elect 150 local Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) in the 2015 Scottish Youth Parliament national elections, Louise Cameron MSYP said politicians should put their differences to one side to build on the record high levels of political engagement and voter turnout during the Scottish independence poll.

“Last year we witnessed record high levels of political engagement and voter turnout during the Scottish referendum,” she said.

“Young people were welcomed into the democratic process with the responsibility and long overdue right to vote at the age of 16, and the enthusiasm created around this momentous occasion inspired many to become involved. It has been fantastic to see that enthusiasm continue throughout the SYP elections.

“Harnessing young people’s enthusiasm for politics and building on the engagement we witnessed throughout the referendum must remain a key priority for Scotland.

Harnessing young people’s enthusiasm for politics and building on the engagement we witnessed throughout the referendum must remain a key priority for Scotland

“For me, this is a priority that transcends party politics, and it was fantastic to see the leaders and representatives of Scotland’s main political parties sharing messages of support for all of those standing as candidates in the Scottish Youth Parliament elections.”

The independence referendum saw a record 3.6 million people turning out to vote, including more than 100,000 16 to 17 year-olds.

The Scottish Youth Parliament elections built on this enthusiasm.

It allowed those aged 12-25 to cast their vote by submitting a paper ballot or using an e-voting system.

Elections were open for two weeks, following three months of campaigning by candidates, between Monday 2 and Friday 13 March.

The results were announced at a series of events held by individual local authorities over the course of the weekend with many of the local authority chief executives acting as returning officers.

SYP also used its Twitter account to announce the results and act as a platform for discussion.

Over the weekend there were around 1,400 mentions of the hashtag #SYPElex, and over 2,200 mentions of #SYPElex throughout the two-week voting stage.

Louise Cameron added: “Young people have once again proven their commitment and enthusiasm to further their involvement in political decision making and ensure young people’s voices are at the forefront of shaping society.

“I’d like to congratulate all of the candidates, and wish the best of luck to the newly elected MSYPs.

“With enthusiastic and committed young people at the forefront of shaping our society, I believe we can all look forward to substantive positive change driven by the future MSYPs.”

A full list of the newly elected Members of the SYP can be found at syp.org.uk/elections.

The newly elected MSYPs will take up office at the Scottish Youth Parliament’s national sitting in June 2015.

 

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