politicians

Many young people in the UK don’t show much interest in politics and don’t vote in elections. Read on to find out why, and to find out more about the UK political system too.

Leaders and parties

The prime minister is the head of government in Britain and the queen (or king) is the head of state. British people vote in elections for members of parliament (MPs) to represent them. There are lots of political parties in the UK but the big three are: the Labour party (the main left-wing party), the Liberal Democrats (the main centre party) and the Conservatives (the main right-wing party).

Voting

The UK voting system operates on a majority vote system. The political party that wins the most votes wins the election. For a political party in the UK to form a government they need an overall majority. This means that the ruling party needs to have more members of parliament than all the other parties put together. If the winning party does not have an overall majority then there is a hung parliament.

Coalition government

What often happens in the case of a hung parliament is that the majority party will join up with a smaller party to form a coalition. By doing this, they exclude the main opposition and still have power – although it is now shared between the two coalition parties.

Today’s government

After the 2010 general election the Conservatives and the LibDems formed a coalition government. Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats is the deputy prime minister and David Cameron is leader of the Conservatives and prime minister of Britain.

Young people and politics

All British citizens over 18 can vote in general elections.  Some people think that young people in Britain are apathetic and don't care about politics. About 37% of 18–24-year-olds voted in the 2005 general election. This number rose to 44% in the 2010 general election. The overall turnout for 2010 was 65% of the population.

This is what some young people said about British politics.

‘I can’t relate to any of the politicians. They all seem fairly similar and rarely listen to young people. If politicians really listened to the voters, I think more young people would vote.’ Fiona, 20 from London.

‘I didn’t vote in the last election but I do care about my country. Thousands of people protested on the streets against the government's plans to cut financial help with university fees earlier this year. Only rich people will be able to go to university if we have to pay thousands of pounds to study! I was at the protest and so were most of my friends at uni. I’ll vote in the next election if things don’t change.’ Sean, 19, from Leeds.

‘Politicians need to start listening to us. We would get engaged in mainstream politics if we felt that our opinions were respected.’ William, 24, from Sheffield.‘Of course I voted in the last election. Everyone should vote! Young people need to start voting in general elections. If we don’t vote, we won’t change anything.’ Pippa, 23, from Fleet.

General elections are held approximately every 5 years. Will more young people decide to vote in the next election? We’ll have to wait until 2015 to find out.

Tasks

Task 1 - useful vocabulary

Task 2 - understanding the text

Task 3 - making sentences

Task 4 - grammar challenge

Comments

  • What do think of these young people’s opinions on politics and voting? What could be done about this?

Let us know what you think by leaving a short comment below.

0 votes

I agree with pippa , we must be involved into politics mainstream and occupy an important place in parliament in order to solve young's issues and defend their rights . For this young persons must creat their own parties where they reclaim their demands , then the majority of young people will vote because they will find that this party will be acting in their best interests .

0 votes

I disagree with both of you. Owing to the fact that, politics sometimes can be a dangerous  gamespecially when you form your own party. Naturally every party have a proper agenda that need to be done whether in people interest or not.

0 votes

In the UK system is very different with my country Iran,but i think young people must be in Genral election because The UK needs force of these persons and they must make their country .