Dukakis Center commissions poll on the youth vote in Greece
The Dukakis Center at ACT will celebrate its 25th anniversary season of public service initiatives during the 2023-24 academic year. The theme of this year's celebration, "Back to Fundamentals," has been conceived to draw renewed attention to the Center's principal mission, encouraging young people in Greece and beyond to engage meaningfully in public affairs.
To set the stage, the Center commissioned Harry Lalatsis, founder of Ierax Analytix, Anatolia High School, and ACT MBA alumnus, to conduct a groundbreaking pan-Hellenic poll of young voters who voted in one or both parliamentary elections in 2023. The purpose of the poll was to explore the contours of the youth vote in Greece in light of parliamentary, local, and European elections scheduled to take place in 2023 and 2024. What drives voters aged 18-29, notorious for their higher-than-average abstention rates, to cast their ballots come election day?
On October 18, 2023, the Dukakis Center hosted the public unveiling of Mr. Lalatsis' findings at the Thessaloniki TechLab.
Kostas Vasileiou (Eduact)
The event was moderated by Filios Stangos, Director of ERT3, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation. Eftichia Teperoglou, Assistant Professor at the School of Political Science (AUTH), provided expert commentary.
Filios Stangos (ERT3)
Harry Lalatsis (Anatolia HS alumnus and ACT MBA, class of 2008)
Eftichia Teperoglou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Filios Stangos, Harry Lalatsis, and Eftichia Teperoglou
Mr. Lalatsis' team approached a sample of 524 respondents aged 18-29 from throughout Greece, who were questioned online between September 4-14, 2023, while twenty additional extended face-to-face interviews were also conducted. The poll was unique insofar as it focused on those in the youth cohort who do vote, not on those who refrain from voting and sought to ascertain what matters to younger voters.
Among the key points to emerge from Mr. Lalatsis' presentation was the ambivalence that seemed to prevail among younger voters: excited by the prospect of voting for the first time or voting for a second (or, in certain cases, a third time) out of a sense of civic duty, they were disappointed with the choices and less than enthusiastic about the outcome of the elections. Mr. Lalatsis also noted the preference of younger voters for candidates who used social media adroitly. Very few, if any, youth relied on newspapers, television, or radio for information ahead of the elections. In this sense, a veritable generation gap separating youth from their elders emerged clearly from the poll.
The data presented by Mr. Lalatsis offered a picture that tends to mirror political sentiment in Britain and the United States but is mainly at odds with a narrative emanating from Brussels, according to which elections in Europe since 2019 were entering a new dimension.
To explore further this apparent disconnect, a second panel considered findings from recent Eurobarometer polling on the youth vote throughout Europe. The EU data were presented by Gonzalo Velasco Monasterio, data and public opinion analyst at the European Parliament, who joined the proceedings virtually from Brussels. Meanwhile, Dukakis Center Director David Wisner provided additional insight from instruments like the annual Harvard Youth Poll and discussed common approaches to promoting youth participation in the United States.
David Wisner and Gonzalo Velasco Monasterio
David Wisner, Harry Lalatsis, and Eftichia Teperoglou
A lively audience of students and seasoned political observers attended the event and contributed to the discussion, which ran over time. Among these present were several candidates in recent municipal elections in Greater Thessaloniki, including ACT alumni Jolda Druga and Theofanis Kontoulis.
George Kokkas (ACT, Entrepreneurship Hub)
Evagelia Jolda Druga (ACT class of 2011)
Theofanis Kontoulis (ACT class of 1998)
The Dukakis Center has hosted scores of voter registration initiatives and other election-related activities for the benefit of American citizens since 2000, bearing in mind that, as colleague Ryan Drysdale of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge has recently noted, "under the Higher Education Act, [American] colleges and universities have a legal obligation to make a good-faith effort to help students register to vote."
The Center has a long history of research and public inquiry into voting and elections. Back in 2016, the Center commissioned Nikos Marantzidis and George Siakas of the Public Opinion Research Unit, University of Macedonia, to conduct a national poll on voting behavior in the 2015 parliamentary election in Greece, findings from which were presented at the landmark conference "Civic Engagement and the Practices of Democracy."
Throughout its 25-year history, the Dukakis Center has been at the cutting edge of public debate. As one prominent Greek journalist put it on the eve of the October 18 event, the youth vote is "το πιο επίκαιρο θέμα της εποχής!"
The Michael and Kitty Dukakis Center for Public and Humanitarian Service at ACT - The American College of Thessaloniki
Celebrating 25 years of public service initiatives 1999-2024
Video here: https://www.livemedia.gr/video/509912
You can read David Wisner's article in the English edition of Kathimerini here.