EU Referendum Analysis 2016: Media, Voters and the Campaign, pp 112-113
The Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014 was for many a watershed moment in the ongoing debate about youth political engagement. Against a backdrop of declining electoral turnout amongst young voters, and evidence that today’s young people are the most politically apathetic to have entered the electorate in the last century, the 85% turnout among 18-24 year olds in the Scottish Independence Referendum – and 75% turnout among newly enfranchised 16 and 17 year olds – became proof that if elections were based on issues that young people care about and can connect to, they will participate in politics. While it is still far too early to know whether the 2014 campaign led to a sustained increase in political interest amongst Scottish young people, there is little doubt that their political engagement was at least temporarily boosted. A reasonable expectation, therefore, is that we should see a similar boost in youth political engagement as a result of the EU Referendum, given that this, too, was on an issue which young people care passionately about – EU membership – and was a contest in which their votes could have been crucial in stopping a Leave victory as a result of high turnout among their more Eurosceptic elders.