WISERD visits the National Eisteddfod

For the first time, WISERD will be presenting research at the annual National Eisteddfod, taking placed this year in Montgomeryshire. The Eisteddfod Festival is the pinnacle of the Welsh cultural calendar. It travels from place to place, alternating between north and south Wales giving communities across the country a chance to welcome up to 160,000 visitors over an eight day period.

At this year’s festival Dr Sioned Pearce, a Research Associate working on the WISERD Education project, will present her findings on a study into the political attitudes of young people; specifically those in 16/17 age group.

According to Labour lowering the UK voting age to 16 would boost the electorate by 1.5 million, half the population of Wales. In addition the Welsh Electoral Reform Society is currently lobbying for votes at 16, improved education in schools and the establishment of a Youth Assembly to give more power and a voice to young people in Wales; driven in part by the Welsh Government’s decision to end funding to the Welsh Youth Assembly, Funky Dragon.

In seems the political engagement, participation and rights of 16 and 17 years olds is firmly on the Welsh political agenda. However, despite often being politically active in many areas of society the voting patterns and views of under-18s are not included in election data, because they are not eligible to vote and the attitudes to politics among this group yet to be fully understood.

Research by the Scottish Parliament’s Devolution Committee into attitudes to politics among 16 and 17 year olds
found: 56% ‘very likely’ to vote in a UK Parliamentary election given the chance. Is the same true of 16 and 17 year olds in Wales? The data presented below goes some way towards answering this question and show some interesting results on general attitudes to politics among this age group.

In the run-up to the 2015 general election a team at WISERD Education asked over 500 young people aged from 12 to 17 in 12 Welsh secondary schools for their opinions on politics. 120 responses came from 16 and 17 year olds, a group of particular interest given recent government discussion around lowering the voting age to 16. In addition, because of the high voter turnout among Scottish 16 and 17 year olds last September (around 80%) and the approximate number of Scottish 16 and 17 year olds who would vote in a general election given the chance (56%); gauging the ‘Welsh angle’ against the ‘referendum effect’ has become essential.

Read more about this research at the WISERD blog.

Dr Pearce will be presenting her finding at 11am on Friday 7th August.