Young people “systematically participate less” in “conventional” modalities, such as elections or party rallies, concluded the study “The Political Participation of Youth in Portugal”, presented at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon.

However, they have a “especially prominent and distinctive role” in online political participation, namely in terms of political discussion on social networks, as well as civic participation, through demonstrations, signature of petitions, fundraising or the boycotting of “certain products for political reasons” or against climate change.

“We cannot understand the political participation of young people and their predisposition to be interested in politics if we look only at electoral participation,” Pedro Magalhães, a researcher at the University of Lisbon and one of the coordinators of the study.

The research, promoted by the Gulbenkian Foundation in partnership with the Center for Studies and Opinion Polls of the Catholic University of Portugal, had the participation of the universities of Aveiro, Lisbon, Minho and Porto.

Voting in elections “is extremely important”, but Pedro Magalhães warned that “you cannot devalue the interest and motivation that young people increasingly place in other forms of participation”.

“Political attitudes, the way of looking at the world and at politics… The young people there, contrary to what is often thought, in terms of passivity, disinterest… What we see is exactly the opposite”, he exemplified.

The study was developed in 2020 and had as references two others from 2007 and 2015 on the same subject. The researchers used the European Social Survey, surveys and interviews with young people.

Patrício Costa, professor at the University of Minho and also coordinator of this research, explained that there are indicators that show that the younger generation (between 15 and 24 years old) is “more aware” and has “other concerns, other motivations”, and that “party structures do not respond”.