‘Rice bowl’ issues will matter most to young voters, say analysts

Featuring: Fakhrurrazi Rashid

Young voters are more likely to cast their ballots for parties that can promise them economic stability, job security and a better life, according to a think tank.

Fakhrurrazi Rashid of Research For Social Advancement Berhad said the Covid-19 pandemic had put economic issues at the forefront of concerns for young people.

“They can see segments of society struggling every day to find better jobs and pay,” he told FMT, with the unemployment rate at 11%, the highest in a decade.

Old political rhetoric on themes such as Malay supremacy and the quota system will have a minimal impact, Fakhrurrazi said.

Young voters are better informed and would determine what is best for them by taking facts into consideration.

“This kind of thinking is what leads young voters to be portrayed as being ‘difficult to read’ and ‘hard to convince’. They will be very critical in choosing their leaders in GE15,” he said.

Political analyst James Chin of the University of Tasmania said young people have been concerned about their future because of the pandemic, as they are just starting their lives and career in a bad economic environment.

“I don’t think you can reach out to the younger group if you don’t provide them something that benefits them personally, for example, better career prospects,” he said.

Chin said a segment of young people would fight for social justice and environmental issues but they represent only a small group compared to those that want economic stability and security.

Asked about the impact that social media influencers have on their decision making, Fakhrurrazi said it is not as strong as influence from their peers and family members.

“Often, young voters are more inclined to news delivered by two groups – family and friends. These two mediums are a reference for them to see more about current issues in different perspectives, especially in politics,” he said.

Chin said young voters are influenced by news programmes, or people who come up with new ideas, and share facts and figures.

As for other expectations from politicians, Fakhrurrazi said young voters want a leadership that is youth-friendly, and responsible in taking care of the economy.

Chin said young voters want initiatives that specifically target them and their needs for a better life. “They want to be recognised as a political bloc, and they want politicians to meet their needs and their interests,” he said.

– Published in Free Malaysia Today on 18 October 2022.

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