by Alexander O. Onukwue
In an unprecedented occurrence, the UK elections recorded a voter turnout of 72% of persons registered to vote between 18 and 24.
Exit polls from the just concluded snap elections called by Prime Minister Theresa May of the Conservative Party reveal a surge of more Labour seats in the House of Commons, precisely 30 more than the Jeremy-Corbyn led Opposition mustered in 2015.
The voter turnout of that demographic was a vast improvement from the referendum figure of 33% in 2016, 30% in the 2015 Elections, and has not been as much as 70% since 1992.
Corbyn’s appeal to the youth during the campaigns was identified as a potential boosting factor to his otherwise dour and, according to May, “weak” persona. A greater willingness to engage in questions, made him appear more affable to young persons who have sought guarantees of certain securities as the May-led Brexit negotiations looked towards an “upfront and straight” stance, in the words of the Guardian (UK).
At the time of her call for the elections in April, a sweeping Theresa May victory was very much the only expected outcome. Leveraging on good ratings, the Prime Minister was virtually calling for a Referendum on herself, seeking validation for plans for the UK going forward. In Trump-Comey language, May hoped Britons could see their way to let her lead on. However, the large turnout of young people responded with an unequivocal ‘No’.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour will not form a Government, as May has reached an alliance with the Democratic Unionists Party of Northern Ireland. However, the gains of the Labour campaign have definitely exceeded expectations. They will feel they have begun a movement.
It is for the youth around the world, especially in Africa, to take note. Change does not happen in an instant but would require aggregated efforts. With 2019 in view, Nigeria has the largest youth demographic in the world. Rather than invest much in the making of Macron, seeking resources not available for achieving such at the present time, will they be inspired to use their number and replicate the Labour example?
The elections presented another significant milestone: a record number of women, 207, were elected as Members of Parliament. It demonstrates the closure in the gap between men and women in British politics, and for some, a development that will represent a firm belief in the minds of people that any failure of Prime Minister Theresa May should not in any way be construed as a weakness of gender.