Young people across the globe have often been critical drivers in massive political change backed through large protest movements. Malta seems to have lost the message, with the country’s young people some of the least likely to protest in the entire EU.
According to a Eurobarometer survey, just 10% of Maltese people aged between 15 and 30 have participated in campaigns, strikes or street protests.
This runs entirely contrary for other Mediterranean realities, with neighbours Italy (53%) and Spain (57%) significantly outscoring Malta (EU average is 35%). Only 8% have participated in political parties, political movements and trade unions.
While most said they do not have the time, around 35% said they were just not interested
The country’s economic performance, progressive moves when it comes to LGBTIQ, and efforts to increase youth inclusion through Vote 16, could also be significant factors in the dramatically low number. The survey does show that unemployment is not a particularly important issue (26%), despite strong concerns over growing social inequality (50%).
However, while a lack of political apathy is sometimes levelled at younger generations, a recent protest over successive governments’ complete disregard for the environment drew hundreds of students to the streets, possibly indicating that with the right issue, young people in Malta can be properly politically engaged.
In fact, the survey shows that the environment and climate change is the most crucial issue amongst young people (56%), followed by poverty and social inequality (50%), and education (41%).
That being said, young protest movements over other important issues facing the country are yet to gather steam. Meanwhile, critics could also say that the student march was only popular off the back of a world-wide youth movement on climate change.
Despite the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the serious allegations levelled against the government (both of which have been severely condemned by the EU), protecting human rights and democracy was not a top priority standing at just 28%.
Volunteering in the local community is also low when compared to the rest of the EU. Around 26% of young Maltese people have taken part in an organised volunteering activity, compared to the EU average of 34%.
The Eurobarometer survey involved 259 Maltese people aged between 15 and 30.