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Do you vote for your country, or your county?

With the UK general election fast approaching much attention has been paid to the stark disparity between turnout levels between young and old.

The under 25s, and students in particular, feel underrepresented by the main political parties resulting in a despondent young electorate.

The seemingly apathetic situation was further exacerbated in 2010 when a mere 44% of 18-25 year olds took the liberty to vote.

The problem may not be indifference to politics in general but confusion over the real impact of voting at local and national level.

For instance, in 2010 I voted for  Caroline Lucas with the hope that ‘green issues’ at a local level would be beneficial for the city of Brighton.

However, the Green Party’s tenure has been an anti-climax.

With surrounding Sussex constituencies (largely Conservative strongholds) boasting recycling rates of up to 50% one would imagine that Brighton, having a Green MP, would trump these statistics.

Unfortunately, however, the reality is that the official figures for 2012/13 Brighton Pavilion indicate a lowly 26.4% of all waste recycled or reused

Broken promises and failure to meet expectations coupled with, what the cynic inside me thinks is, an unrealistic and overly optimist 2015 manifesto and I find myself looking for an alternative to the alternative this May.

I may be too harsh on the Green Party. After all how much influence can one single MP have in a political system dominated by larger, more influential parties?

Would it be a more of a rational choice to vote with the nation instead of the constituency in mind, then?

In this case our thoughts turn to the big players in British politics.

Take it as read that my ‘X’ won’t be next to the incompetent UKIP or indeed as a vote for the Lib Dems with a leader with about as much charisma as a wet paper bag.

Therefore, is one to vote blue and endure at least 5 more years of austerity or vote red with the hope of an alternative approach?

The crisis of representation rears it head again.

While to an extent I support the more individualistic free-market economy supported by the Tories I can’t vote for a party who allows the richest tax havens whilst demonising  and imposing tougher sanctions on the poor.

Additionally, although I echo Labour  sentiments such as keeping the NHS free and inclusive I cannot agree with the modern left leaning ideology of tolerance to intolerance under the guise of not causing ‘offence.’

What I’m not doing is advocating Russell ‘Bollinger Bolshevik’ Brand’s view that we are asphyxiated by the totalitarian autocrats who suppress the masses by concealing their perfidiousness as magnanimous gestures (I can read a thesaurus as well).

I am, however, suggesting that come election day I will be faced with a two-pronged dilemma.

Firstly, do I vote with my local area in mind? And secondly, whom do I even vote for?

What I am sure of though is that we, as the electorate in the youngest age range, should endeavour to do everything in our power to inform ourselves as much as possible and ensure we don’t become pat of the 56% of 18-25 years olds who didn’t exercise their enfranchisement last time around.

It would be true to say that people in my age bracket must prevent future youth disillusionment by voting in larger numbers so as to build up a voice that those in power cannot avoid listening to.

It would be even more accurate to state that whether the impetus for this vote emerges from local issues or, indeed, national affairs it is of paramount importance to prevent a vicious circle of underrepresentation.

Josh Lievens

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