What do young voters in Mexico want?

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Mexican journalist and author León Krauze holds a Master’s degree from NYU, he has covered politics in the United States, for both American and Mexican media outlets. In 2005, he published “La Casa Dividida,” an account of the first five years of the Bush presidency. This is his most recent column in the Mexican newspaper El Universal:

This is the most important election year in modern world history. 4 billion people in more than 50 countries are going to vote, including Mexico and the United States. It will be an unprecedented challenge for democracy. It will test the solidity of electoral institutions and democratic practices. With misinformation and manipulation as electoral tools, the year will examine the voter’s ability to discern and their willingness to participate.

The consequences could not be greater.

It is not an exaggeration to say that this year will decide the political, cultural, economic, and social course of the planet for the remainder of the century.

In this context of enormous importance, no variable will be more revealing than the behavior of young voters. Will they decide to participate in the electoral processes or will they prefer apathy? If they participate, what will be the issues that take them to the polls? What will motivate your vote? And even more important: do they fully understand what is at stake? Are they informed enough – that is, do they know enough about the history of their countries and the world – to vote rationally?

A recent report in the Washington Post on European politics suggests that young people have forgotten the lessons of history. Or at least they have chosen to discard them. The Washington Post reports on the case of Portugal, where the far-right “Chega” party has registered a notable increase in support among voters aged 18 to 34. If recent trends continue, “Chega” – anti-immigrant, restrictive of rights such as abortion – could become the most popular party among young Portuguese.

Why has “Chega” grown? In part, because young people have real grievances, not addressed by the more moderate parties. The cost of living and housing; is a palpable disenchantment with the economy. But there are other factors. The first is a clear ignorance of history. The Post report shares surveys that indicate that young Portuguese do not know (nor remember, evidently) life during the long dictatorship that ended in 1974. Since they do not know the price of losing freedom, they have no incentive to defend it.

What they do have, however, is the incentive for frivolity. “Chega” has also grown because it has Tiktoker politicians who are celebrities on social networks. The appeal of modern tinsel coupled with the stridency of radical politics – for example, nationalisms rabidly opposed to migration – seems to be finding a dangerous echo in Portugal and other places in Europe, such as Austria, the Netherlands, and France.

Young Europeans seem to want the restoration of past repressions.

And this forces an urgent question. What do young Mexicans want? What drives your vote? How to get their support? It is clear that Movimiento Ciudadano is committed to attracting from the surface, the glow of phosphorescent sneakers and Instagram culture. We will have to see how far that (let’s say) argument goes. Others are betting on the same collective amnesia that afflicts young Europeans. In Mexico, democracy has lost prestige. Young people seem to care less than their parents if Mexico lives in a democracy. In part, I fear, it is because they have forgotten the lessons of the PRI’s Mexico. A voter born in the year of the alternation is 24 years old today. Do you remember what the PRI was? Do you know how the hegemonic party plunged Mexico into years of what was the famous “perfect dictatorship”? Do you know the history of 1988 and the fight for democracy? It seems unlikely. And if that is unlikely, how are they going to find the alarm bells in the hardening of the new Mexican political system, with its hegemonic party, with its authoritarian ways, so clearly similar to what we seemed to have overcome? Since they do not know history, they have condemned themselves to repeat it.

In part, we, the generations before them, have failed them. It is our responsibility to explain what happened so that it does not happen again. It seems like I didn’t do it well.

For now, with the electoral situation already at hand, what remains is to call for young participation. The meaning of the vote does not matter. The vote matters. For young people to vote in an uninformed manner would be a defeat for Mexican democracy. But not voting would be much more so. After all, this country is yours now. Even if they don’t see it with the necessary clarity.

Source: El Universal

Monterrey Daily Post