Voters of Tomorrow Have Their Say Today; Ian Jones Reports on an Event Where Pre-Voting Age Teenagers Got a Taste for Politics

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Jones

DEMOCRACY Day for youngsters aged 16-18 was held to encourage them to participate in the democratic process. Students from secondary schools in Gwynedd participated in three interactive workshops, at the Electric Mountain in Llanberis, conducted by representatives from the Daily Post, the National Assembly and Gwynedd Council.

Students from Ysgol Tryfan and Ysgol Friars in Bangor, Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in Penygroes, Ysgol y Berwen in Bala and Ysgol Brynrefail in Llanrug took part.

The workshops, organised by The Electoral Commission, explained about each of the organisations before exploring how young people can involve themselves and therefore influence the issues that affect them.

The afternoon workshop, chaired by BBC Wales's political correspondent John Stevenson, consisted of a question and answer session in which the young delegates quizzed senior representatives from political parties in Wales.

Pupils from Ysgol Brynrefail were eager to know how much is spent on running the National Assembly and questioned whether it was worth the investment, as the funds could be channelled elsewhere.

``I was also interested to know how long it took a council to actually act on what they had decided upon,'' said Ysgol Brynrefail sixth former Jake Burston.

``In general, I found the day to be an interesting one as I didn't know a great deal about politics before attending.

``Now, I am eager to know more as I believe it is important to take an interest in what is going on.

``The problem I find is that it is difficult to obtain information about exactly what each party stands for.

``The fact that the parties have all seemed to blur together on many issues doesn't help either,'' he said. Fellow pupil I fan Dafydd felt that politicians themselves are partly responsible for the cynicism which is directed towards them.

``You often hear a politician promising everything and delivering nothing,'' he said.

``A more straightforward approach would be better whereby they tell you what they are going to do and stick with it. If they do make a mistake, I think it would be beneficial for them to come clean, admit it and move on. Instead, we see them trying to obscure the matter until it is either forgotten or they are forced to admit it.''

However, sixth former Sofie Roberts disagreed.

``If politicians did come out and apologise for something then they would be perceived as being weak and that could be catastrophic for them,'' she said. …