By M. Cerdeira
Are we too young, too uncultured, too naïve to take part in the decision of who should represent our country? Does the decision even affect us? Should we not take advantage of the opportunity we are provided as teenagers to shape our future lives as a nation?
In fact, we, the youth, have the future of the world in our hands. That is why it came as an absolutely shock to the Brazilian population that, with elections approaching in October, by late March, only 17.1% people aged between 16 and 17 had applied for a license to vote (that is, 1 in 5 teenagers), when, the final date in which they were allowed to register was May fourth. This was, until the number took a surprising turn, increasing by 89.7% according to the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) in April, compared to the previous month. What research showed would possibly be the election with the lowest number of teenage voters in the history of the minor-voting campaign (which began more than thirty years ago), ended up rising by 47.2% compared to 2018 elections, and 57.4% in relation to the elections in 2014.
The campaign that allows minors of 16 and older to qualify for a voting license began when the Brazilian constitution of 1988 was implemented. The number of voters reached its peak in 1992 when 3.5 million adolescents registered to vote. This was, until 1994, when this number began declining as Brazil was faced with president Collor’s impeachment. Since then, the electoral tribunals around the country had to start campaigning. Under the “Jovem Eleitor” (young voter) program; talks were held in public schools in order to spread awareness to the public, which did show increase in the understanding, and ergo, the interest of minors in registering to vote amongst the 2000s. Recently, however, this interest has not increased, and the following reasons might begin to explain why. Generation Z has expressed continuous interest in making a change regarding the equal treatment of minorities, and our environment. These topics in specific “are not so palatable for most political parties” according to Eduardo Grin, a political scientist and professor at Fundacão Getulio Vargas. This means that current political parties have not modernized themselves enough in order to appeal to younger generations. As Grin states, after being bombarded with vast amounts of trending political polarization online from all around the globe, teenagers may end up believing that if politics are so antiquated, they would rather search for other ways to instigate political change. Most of all, there is a huge lack of information about politics provided to the young; and without education, how can people make a change?
In response to the issue, this year, the TSE was able to contribute to advances in the young public’s interest by using innovative tactics: influencers and social media- the most accessible tools for Gen Z. In March, the hashtag “Rolê das eleições” quickly spread over Twitter and partnerships online with celebrities with huge followings such as singers Anitta and Zeca Pagodinho culminated in a greater response from teenagers. One of the TSE hashtags on the topic ended up going viral and reached over 88 million different screens. The creation of social media platforms to communicate with this target audience, such as TikTok, have allowed the TSE to be more personal towards their targeted public. Apart from these campaigns, artists decided to individually express the importance of voting to encourage teenagers.
The campaigns that got our current generation to get involved really reflect on how politics are changing and will continue to in the future. We are, more than ever, faced with a future of technology- of complete reliance on the tiny screens on our phones. We are the keenest generation yet to achieve equity and equality in all aspects possible. Modern politics is unable to keep up with the concerns of newer generations- and with a decline in ways to engage with the younger public, the overall popular interest in politics will continuously fall. The TSE was forced to learn about the current youth to understand how to gain their interest. Politics in the future is bound to look completely different, and for politicians to succeed, they will need to learn how to reach younger audiences.