Covid will influence the abstention of young people more than that of older people

The participation could fall below 60%, according to a survey of the ARA

2 min
Electoral posters for the 14-F elections

BarcelonaIf a pandemic election is already associated with a cumbersome rucksack of uncertainty, the sui generis catalan case has shown in recent weeks that everything can be even more complicated. A contested electoral postponement, a date imposed by a court, a government that claims it will have to tighten restrictions when what it ends up doing is relaxing them, thousands of people refusing to be at the polling stations, and a virus that continues to condition the everyday. That is why abstention is one of the variables that generate most interest. Tomorrow the ARA will publish the survey that the Institut Opinòmetre has elaborated throughout this week, in which a worrying fact stands out: the participation could be of 58%, one of the worst records ever. It is the estimation that Opinòmetre makes according to the answers of the 830 people who have participated in the study.

However, according to the demoscopy, abstention would not affect, as one could think, older people. The group of people over 64 years old is convinced of voting. More than 75% say they will do so, and only 6% have already done so by post. However, in addition, only 6% say they will not go to vote because of the health situation. A percentage that contrasts with that of young people. Among those surveyed aged 18 to 24, 19.7% say that the coronavirus will be the reason why they will not vote in these elections.

Abstentionists who use the health crisis as an excuse are also many among those aged 25 to 34 (17.2%), those aged 35 to 49 (16.2%), and among those aged 50 to 64 (13.3%). In fact, the trend decreases as the respondent's age increases.

And who do senior citizens vote for? According to the survey, especially the PSC, which bases more than 36% of its vote on people who are over 64 years of age. Cs, JxCat, Vox and PDECat also have a great dependence on the vote of the elderly.

The barometer that the Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) has published this week does not detect more absention in the elderly. On the contrary. The only age group that guaranteed with certainty that they would exercise their right to vote on 14-F was the 55 to 64 year olds.

Legitimacy of the elections

Despite the fact that legitimacy does not depend only on the turnout, the Catalan Government had warned of the danger that an unbridled increase in abstention could "seriously affect" the democratic nature of the elections. If the figure of 58% turnout is achieved, 14-F would be five points below the average recorded in the twelve previous elections to the Catalan parliament. It is true that the effect of the three elections of the Catalan independence bid (2012, 2015 and 2017) has raised this average. In fact, the elections of 21-D, called by the Spanish government after the declaration of independence, are those that most appealed the Catalans to go to the polls: 79.1% voted. This will be the reference figure that will be used on the night of February 14 and, therefore, it is possible that it means the most important drop in participation in history.

Additionally, the turnout in the Catalan elections has never equalled that of the general elections, with an average of over 70%. The 54,87% of the year 1992 is, nowadays, the historical minimum, followed by the 56% of the year 2006, in the elections after the referendum of the Statute. This year the requests for postal vote have tripled, but the forecast of the presential vote points clearly to a decrease.