(Bloomberg) — The murder of Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just days before the upper house election sent shockwaves through the nation. Yet voter turnout increased only marginally and Japanese youth remained largely disengaged.
With just 34% of 18- and 19-year-olds heading to the ballot box, youth turnout relative to the overall figure was the lowest since the voting age was dropped from 20 to 18 six years ago. That’s despite an ongoing civic education campaign aimed at rallying younger Japanese, who trail counterparts in the US and Korea in political engagement.
With the world’s oldest population, Japan is facing a “silver democracy” crisis in which the younger generation feels underrepresented in politics, despite shouldering an ever-increasing burden to support the non-working population. The low youth turnout was a far cry from the 64% of Japanese in their 60s who hit the booths in 2019. Data for that age group in this month’s election is not available.
Unless that gap narrows, experts say policies will continue to favor the elderly and are less likely to be socially progressive. The conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which has held power almost continuously since its formation in 1955, opposes same-sex marriage or allowing married couples to have different surnames. Critics say it has dragged its feet in advancing the rights of women.
“Democracy shouldn’t have to be dependent on one’s age,” said Momoko Nojo, founder of “No Youth No Japan,” an activist group with over 100,000 followers on Instagram. “When you look at the reality right now, the values that are important to 18- and 19-year-olds and those in their 20s are not really reflected in society.”
Since Japan lowered its voting age in 2016, the government has sought to boost youth engagement through civic education. In the days leading up to the ballot, Tokyo’s Nogyo High School, for instance, allotted class time for its third-year students to take part in online quizzes that offer voters a snapshot of their compatibility with each political party.
“Younger students tend to think very deeply, and if they can’t decide on a party, a lot of the time they just don’t go to the voting booth,” said Eriko Hanawa, a social studies teacher at the school. “I think it’s important to explain to them that some adults don’t even know everything about the election, but what’s important is to show up.”
The Japanese media published a swathe of such online questionnaires, called Voting Advice Applications, that run people’s policy preferences through an algorithm and serve up a recommended vote. With an abundance of clickable links directing people to information about parties and their policies, the quizzes prompt people to engage in further research.
Despite such efforts, campaigners say young people feel unable to challenge the status quo, or are often actively discouraged from political debate. In a case that went viral on Twitter, a student at Miyagi Prefectural Sendai Daini High School in Tohoku was forced to take down information posters on how to vote when the teacher said they were too political.
“That’s probably not so exceptional,” said Masahisa Endo, an associate professor of political science at Tokyo’s Waseda University. “Teachers are very sensitive to political issues in schools.”
Despite expectations that Abe’s shock killing could rally voters, turnout among 18- and 19-year-olds was just 2.2 percentage points higher than the last upper house election in 2019. The overall turnout rose 3.3 percentage points to 52%, according to data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
In the 2020 US presidential election, 51% of the 18-24 age bracket voted, while the turnout for 19-year-olds in the 2017 presidential election in South Korea was close to 78%.
Policy change, such as the governing LDP phasing out coal-fired power generation, is less likely unless younger people become more politically active, said Endo.
“The so-called Generation Z pays more attention to climate change or other issues than other generations and such voices may be less reflected in political processes,” he said.
Digital Minister Karen Makishima said that it was the role of lawmakers to boost participation in the electoral process, and online voting could help.
“We’d like to promote young people’s interest in elections and democracy,” she told a briefing in Tokyo this week. “As a parliamentarian, I’m interested in having more ways, easy ways for people to access ballots.”
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
Former MPs find new paths and purpose after politics – CBC News
It’s been a year since Bernadette Jordan last walked through the doors of the House of Commons as an elected official.
She lost the seat she’d held since 2015 to Conservative candidate Rick Perkins in South Shore St-Margarets in 2021.
Jordan was minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard in the Trudeau government — a portfolio that had her navigating a thorny dispute over Indigenous treaty rights in the lobster fishing industry.
“What I tried to do was find a middle ground. I tried to get to a place where First Nations had the ability to exercise their moderate livelihood rights,” she said.
“Unfortunately, that middle ground didn’t make anybody happy and that was what ended my political career.”
So it didn’t come as a “huge shock,” she said, when she lost her seat. She subsequently accepted a position as national director of philanthropy with Shelter Movers in Nova Scotia, a not-for-profit organization that helps women move out of abusive situations.
Losing is as much a part of politics as winning. Jordan said that, for her, politics was always a means to an end — which made leaving it behind a little easier to take.
“I ran for politics, not because I ever wanted to be an MP or a minister, but because I wanted to help the people who lived in my community,” she said. “That’s always been my guiding principle.”
Every election leaves a handful of MPs looking for something new to do with their lives.
Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s drive for a majority government, the Liberal Party gained just three seats in the House of Commons (Kevin Vuong, though elected as a Liberal was ultimately forced to sit as an Independent. The Conservatives lost two seats, while the Bloc and the NDP each gained a seat).
Maryam Monsef was also in Trudeau’s cabinet, serving as minister for women and gender equality and rural development before the 2021 election ended her five-year term as MP for Peterborough-Kawartha.
Monsef’s district is considered a swing riding that sees pitched and unpredictable battles between Liberals and Conservatives. She lost her seat to Conservative candidate Michelle Ferreri by 3,000 votes.
“Losing sucks,” she said. “I’m a competitive person and I work really hard for my community and nobody likes to lose.”
Monsef was 29 years old when she started her local political career and 30 when she became an MP.
“I was in the deep end right away and there’s no manual on how to be an effective cabinet minister or an effective member of Parliament,” she said.
Monsef endured a backlash in August, 2021 after she referred to the Taliban as “brothers” during a press conference in a plea to ensure safe passage for thousands looking to flee Afghanistan.
‘So many times falling off the horse’
She later took the comment back, saying that it’s a term many Muslims use to refer to each other and insisting she still viewed the Taliban as a terrorist organization.
“There were so many setbacks, so many times falling off the horse and getting back up,” said Monsef.
A year later, Monsef is deep into what she calls her “passion project” — a consulting firm called Onward that aims to help women develop leadership skills.
“I’ve always believed that when women are doing well, their families are doing well, society is doing well and countries do better,” she said.
“I started this company so that we could be a source of support to achieve that vision for women and their families — thriving by supporting women leaders.
“If I can play a small part in their leadership journey, well, that’s a life well lived.”
Paul Manly was elected in a May 6, 2019 byelection, becoming the second Green Party MP elected in Canadian history.
His political career proved relatively brief. While he kept his seat in the 2019 general election, he was defeated by NDP candidate Lisa Marie Barron in the 2021 vote.
“It’s not easy going from being a very public figure to suddenly being unemployed,” he said. “So you know you have to figure out what you’re going to do.”
Today, he is the part-time executive director of the Unitarian Shelter, a 24-bed shelter for the chronically homeless.
He also went back to a project he started before launching his political career — a nonprofit community service cooperative called Growing Opportunities.
“I’ve always been someone that’s concerned about environmental issues and about social justice,” he said. “And so I’ve done that kind of work for decades and when I was in the House of Commons, those are the kinds of things I was advocating for.”
‘There’s a lot that can be done’
Now, Manly is taking another run at politics – this time for Nanaimo City Council.
“There’s a lot that can be done at different levels of government,” he said. “We’re in a climate emergency and we need to be taking action to address the urgency of the situation and to make sure that we have a just transition to a new economy.
“And that work needs to take place at every level of government.”
Conservative James Cumming was Edmonton Centre’s MP from 2019 to 2021. He lost his seat to Liberal candidate Randy Boissoneault by 615 votes.
When the dust settled, Cumming was tasked with reviewing the Conservative Party’s electoral results – a typical practice for most political parties following an election.
After the post-mortem was completed, he continued to work as a political insider by helping out in the United Conservative Party’s leadership race in Alberta.
“I’m still involved with conservatism,” he said, adding he still keeps a close eye on federal politics.
“Now that the party has picked its leader, I still remain committed to the movement and will help wherever I can.
“That may be in public life or that may be behind the scenes or a combination of both. But if the right opportunity comes along, we’ll consider it.”
Last year was also a difficult year personally for Cumming and his family. He lost his son Garrett to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He and his wife continue to be involved in charitable organizations that raise awareness of the disease and money for research.
“They did a golf tournament this year in Garrett’s name that the local firefighters put on and we’re contemplating some other activities with that,” he said.
“It’s something we’ve been pretty active with for the past 15 or 20 years.”
The NDP didn’t see significant changes to its caucus in 2021. The party hoped to boost its presence in the House of Commons but finished the election with just one extra seat.
Scott Duvall was the New Democrat MP for Hamilton Mountain from 2015 to 2021. Unlike a lot of MPs who drop out of federal politics, he chose the timing of his exit by announcing in March 2021 that he would not be running again.
“After six years in politics, I was really starting to feel that because of my age, that I wanted to retire,” he said.
But Duvall couldn’t stay away from politics for very long.
‘I’m still useful’
“I was kind of disappointed that when I came back home to see my city in a dysfunctional way, the way the city was going with the crumbling roads and sidewalks,” he said.
Duvall is now running as a candidate for Hamilton’s city council. Ontario’s municipal elections will be held on Oct. 24.
“People were encouraging me to run, so I did. And that was the reason why I came back,” he said.
“Sometimes you think it’s in your DNA to continue on. I just thought, ‘I’m still useful.'”
Duvall said he feels he can make a bigger impact on his city by running municipally.
“In Ottawa, I found it very difficult and frustrating that things go as slow as molasses. It just takes time and it takes patience,” he said.
Duvall said that while he doesn’t have ambitions to run federally again, he wants to support people who hope to start a career in politics.
“It’s time to help somebody else out and bring them up,” he said.
At 18, I only recently realized the importance of community engagement and politics – CBC.ca
This column is an opinion by Shayyan Husein, a Grade 12 student at Orchard Park Secondary School in Stoney Creek, Ont. It is part of a special municipal election project by CBC Hamilton, featuring voices from the community. Find all our election coverage here.
I turned 18 in April. I thought I cared about politics and being active in my community. I had been living in Hamilton for around a year by then and already felt devoted to helping out my community in any way I could.
For example, I worked for Elections Ontario, helping at a local polling station. I assisted residents of Hamilton to vote without any complications and running the voting location smoothly was our main goal.
This past spring I also helped start Orchard Park Secondary School’s first Muslim Student Association. I scheduled school events such as where we sold Kulfis (ice cream treats) to students and made sure we always had an available room to hold our Friday prayers. It was all part of building a safe and inspiring community for Muslim students.
Yet, despite my activism, on June 2, I didn’t vote in the provincial election — the first time I would have been eligible to do so.
Why? It felt like I didn’t have the time. I felt it was not THAT important. As I happened to be working at a different polling station than what was assigned for me to vote at, I felt like I did not have the time to commute to my assigned location and vote. More importantly, I felt like missing my vote once would not matter much, so I allowed myself to miss it.
Just a few months later, I feel differently. This time, in the municipal election, I will vote.
Why community engagement — and voting — is important
Building our Muslim Student Association from the ground up made me realize the true impact of feedback from the community and how much community voices can influence those in charge.
I’ve learned through my work organizing the association’s first Eid event, which saw 60 students come together at Waterdown District High School, that you can make a change by simply dropping a suggestion or by voicing your concern.
As our Eid event consisted only of Muslims, many asked if they could invite their non-Muslim friends, which raised a great suggestion that could be implemented. In the future, we can bring other students from different religions to experience how we, as Muslims, celebrate our holy event. Not only will they learn more about what we do, but they can also enjoy what there is to offer, such as cultural food, different games and the atmosphere of our community.
Many students also wanted the event to be held at Orchard Park, as many students who attended the event were from here. This way, transportation would not be a blockage for the majority of those who came and for those who wished to attend.
If it were not for community engagement and feedback, we would not have thought of these ideas to implement and make our future events better for the community that enjoys them.
Realizing how important this engagement and feedback was also made me realize that my feedback to my own community is important.
That is why I am voting in this election.
What matters to me
The issue that matters to me the most in this election is the young voices of Hamilton not being heard. I realize some of my peers don’t feel the same way, even though I think their voices matter, too.
During a recent school day in Orchard Park, as my friends wandered through the halls rushing for lunch, I went out to discuss with five of my peers who are or will be eligible to vote in the upcoming years about their views on voting and elections.
Four of them expressed their disinterest in politics and said they are opting to “vote for who their parents or relatives are voting for” in the future. The other friend was still unsure of whether to vote or not.
By not caring about our community and who will end up running it, we are not allowing ourselves to fully distinguish between different political candidates, what they bring to the table and what they plan to bring for the future.
Encouraging my fellow classmates and friends that are eligible to vote is an action that I have slowly started to do, as there is no harm in voting. Allowing the youth to have a voice within our community is powerful, and it is what I stand for when I look to vote in the upcoming municipal election.
I encourage all voters, new or experienced, to use voting as a tool to empower our voices for what we think is most important to us for our city. Hard-working candidates are relying on our feedback for the betterment of our community, so our duty as part of the community is to give our honest feedback. That way, they can continue doing what they strive for — and our priorities will be heard.
Our feedback can come in different ways, such as emails, word of mouth, messages on social media or even with a simple vote. I want to use my vote as a way to allow my voice to help create action within the community.
Not only will I vote for my own voice, but for the empowerment of other young voters as well. After all, how do we plan for our city to change for the next generation if we — the young voters — are not giving our honest feedback?
For more of CBC Hamilton’s municipal election coverage:
COMMENTARY: The ‘freedom convoy’ will keep driving our politics – Global News
The so-called “freedom convoy” that blocked Parliament Hill and several Canada-U.S. border crossings may have dispersed earlier this year, but it won’t be leaving our political conversation anytime soon. At least, not if opponents of the federal Conservative Party and their new leader, Pierre Poilievre, have anything to say about it.
The most recent polling Ipsos conducted for Global News shows why.
The party most interested in reminding Canadians about ties between the convoy and Pierre Poilievre will be the Liberal Party. Why? The Liberals are in a very difficult spot. They currently trail the Conservatives in the national popular vote by five points. The Conservatives also lead the Liberals in all regions of the country west of Quebec, with a stunning seven-point lead in seat-rich Ontario. With these numbers, if an election were held tomorrow, the Conservatives would easily win a plurality of seats.
It gets worse for the Liberals.
Justin Trudeau trails Pierre Poilievre as preferred prime minister by about the same amount as the Liberal Party trails the Conservative Party on vote. Most worrying for the prime minister is how high his negatives are. Canadians who strongly disapprove of Trudeau outnumber those who strongly approve of him by a ratio of four-to-one. These negatives are also well ahead of those of Poilievre, who remains largely unknown to a significant number of Canadians.
Trudeau’s relationship with Canadians has gone through the full cycle of Ds: darling, to disappointment, to dislike. This situation will be difficult to reverse, even for a gifted politician like Trudeau.
Further on leadership, two data points jump out of the polling on how Canadians view Trudeau and Poilievre. Trudeau leads Poilievre by 16 points on which federal leader is most likely to “be in over his head.” This is astounding given that Trudeau has been prime minister for seven years and Canadians barely know Poilievre.
As worrying for the Liberals is that Poilievre and Trudeau are separated by only two points on which leader is most likely to have a hidden agenda. In the past, this issue has proven to be an Achilles Heel for the Conservatives. Not so much for the new Conservative leader.
If the Liberals can’t count on their governing record or the strength of their leader to provide them with an advantage going into the next election, then what about their strengths on policy? Unfortunately, there isn’t much for them to work with here either.
We asked Canadians about which issues they are most focused on for the next election. The top five that came back are: health care, the economy, housing, inflation/interest rates, and taxes. Unfortunately for the Liberals, the Conservatives lead on all these issues with the exception of health care, where there is a three-way tie. Even on the sixth issue, climate, a signature issue for the Liberals, the Liberals are tied with the NDP. In other words, the policy door is closed for the Liberals too.
If the Liberals can’t count on their record, their leader, or a specific policy issue to defeat the Conservatives in the next election then how will they win a fourth mandate? This is where the convoy comes back in. The poll shows Poilievre’s support of the protesters is a potential vulnerability available for the Liberals to exploit. The Liberals are too good at running effective, disciplined, and ruthless election campaigns to miss it.
Conservatives hold 5-point lead on Liberals among Canada’s decided voters after Poilievre elected leader: poll
Ipsos asked Canadians the following question: “As you know, Pierre Poilievre, the new leader of the Conservative Party, expressed his support for the freedom convoy protests that occurred in Ottawa and at border crossings last year. Are you more or less likely to vote for the Conservative Party because of his stance on this issue?”
Seventeen per cent of Canadians told us they would be more likely to vote for the Conservatives because of Poilievre’s support for the truckers. Conversely, 41 per cent said they would be less likely to vote for the Conservatives due to Poilievre’s position. Most importantly though, 41 per cent said Poilievre’s stance on the truckers would have no impact on their future vote.
If the numbers on the convoy continue as they are, then this issue won’t have much influence on the outcome of the next election. That’s because 58 per cent of Canadians either support Poilievre’s position or say it won’t factor into their vote.
The Liberals will not allow this much fence sitting to continue without challenge. They will push voters to pick a side. If the fence sitters split in the same ratio (roughly 2:1 to unfavourable) as those who have already made up their minds, then the Liberals will have something to work with. That’s why they will go all in on making the truck convoy and various adjacent issues the focus of their campaign. Otherwise, they can only wait for Poilievre to make a serious error or for some crisis to change their prospects. Nearly a decade in power has left the Liberals little else to work with.
Darrell Bricker is CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
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