Youth and Democratic Transformation

It is widely known that youth make up a large portion of Palestinian society. This has been reflected in the number of youths that are registered and entitled to vote. 93% of the population is registered to vote in the upcoming 2021 elections and nearly half of those voters are made up of youth, i.e., 1,157,481.

Written by: Maisa Abu Zeidan

It is widely known that youth make up a large portion of Palestinian society. This has been reflected in the number of youths that are registered and entitled to vote. 93% of the population is registered to vote in the upcoming 2021 elections and nearly half of those voters are made up of youth, i.e., 1,157,481. It can be said that the youth have become the electoral force that will determine the outcome of the election, particularly in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, their votes will determine how many seats each competing bloc receives – if elections indeed take place.  Considerable attention is paid to the influence and power that youth hold in this regard, whether youth are considered as an essential component and a driving force or even a priority in the hoped-for national strategies and agendas.  

It’s a known fact that youth are the cornerstone for any real societal change or democratic transformation; but what needs to be emphasized here is the role of youth in the Palestinian national struggle and in society in general. At the same time, since their needs have not been adequately represented in decision-making processes, one can conclude this to be their motive for their registration to vote. To clarify more, most youth have never participated in elections before due to the halt in the democratic processes since 2006, which is also a reason to vote and change their political reality.

We are talking about elections as a basic act of transformation and change processes as well as dealing with the role of Palestinian youth as a decisive force in the same way other populations talk about elections and include youth in them. However, how can we talk about the role of Palestinian youth and the importance of their involvement when the main issues related to the broader conflict in Palestine have not been addressed? The reality of youth in Palestine negatively effects all social components and sectors. The main issues that youth encounter is the following:

  1. Confronting the policies of the occupation,
  2. How to deal with the negative impacts that resulted from the occupation,
  3. The many political, economic, social and cultural obstacles the occupation imposed that disrupt public life, and
  4. Their aspiration to participate in decision-making processes, political life and the development process.

When focusing on the current situation, (i.e., the legislative elections) and on youth and their role, it is concluded that youth’s reality must be addressed and fixed. The recent articulated events are different from the previous stages of the Palestinian cause, due to the tremendous development of the telecommunications technology sector. Therefore, technology has become an element of strength that youth possess and can use in their favor in order to amplify their voices. Regardless of this development, it has resulted in many challenges for youth, as the following:

  1. It is pushing youth away from national action as a result of the interwoven reality at multiple levels and
  2. Youth are neglected because of the patriarchal system prevailing in political and societal work.

Addressing the role of youth on the basis of the transitional factor, limiting their importance and attempting to mobilise this group with the aim of employing them to serve the interests of the various parties, will become one of the risks that threaten their position and active roles. This could lead to a setback that will affect Palestine’s national work in the midst of its occupation. Despite youth’s lack of involvement in the process of what led to the determination of the dates for the upcoming elections, there is a historic opportunity for all Palestinian parties to define the mechanisms of their involvement with youth, to establish an advanced position for this group in all sectors, stages and entitlements and to enhance their roles in various fields, especially in the upcoming political system. However, the question remains: How is it possible to achieve this? The answer(s) to this question have become an urgent necessity in the process of social change and liberation, leading to self-determination.

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.

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