Scotland politics

Referendum inspires young activists

Young voter Image copyright David Cheskin
Image caption Scotland's voting age is being lowered in time for the 2016 Scottish Parliament election

A quarter of 16 and 17-year-olds were inspired by the Scottish independence referendum to join a political party, according to a survey.

And a further 25% have also become involved with political campaigning in the wake of the 18 September vote.

The figures came in a Scottish Parliament survey of young people's experiences of the historic vote.

Most of the 1,200 first-time voters who took part said they wanted a say in all future elections.

The UK voting age, usually 18, was lowered to allow younger people to take part in the referendum, which resulted in a vote to keep Scotland in the Union.

'Unprecedented interest'

More than 109,000 16 and 17-year-olds registered to take part.

They will also get to vote in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, after new powers are devolved to Holyrood - but not in the Westminster poll in May.

A total of 1,252 young people, aged 16 and 17, took part in the online survey, organised by the Scottish Parliament's devolution committee.

The results suggested:

  • Since the referendum, 25% of respondents joined a political party and 25% took part in campaigning or political activity
  • 35% campaigned for either a "Yes" or "No" vote and 38% went to a campaign event
  • 79% said 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in Scottish, UK and council elections
  • More than 84% agreed with the decision to lower the referendum voting age
  • Nearly two-thirds accessed online or social media material from the official campaigns, while broadcast media was their most popular source for information.

Devolution committee convener, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford, said: "We saw an unprecedented level of interest and democratic engagement around the referendum and the results of this survey provide further evidence of the energy and enthusiasm generated.

"It is quite clear that 16 and 17-year-olds welcomed the opportunity to have their say on their country's constitutional future and now want a say in the elections that shape their lives and communities - it is now for politicians to respond positively to that democratic momentum."

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