Centre de Recherche Politique d'Abidjan

Conference October 8, 2015

Conference October 8, 2015

La Fondation Friedrich Naumann pour la Liberté,
en partenariat avec le Centre de Recherche Politique d’Abidjan (CRPA )
a organisé le jeudi 8 Octobre 2015 dans la grande salle de la Conférence Episcopale Régionale de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CERAO) à Abidjan, une conférence portant sur le thème « IMPLICATION DE LA JEUNESSE DANS LE PROCESSUS ELECTORAL EN COTE D’IVOIRE. » Dr. FLAN Moquet César, Politologue et Directeur du CRPA, a eu la responsabilité de donner cette conférence placée sous le parrainage du Ministre Sidi TOURÉ, Ministre de la Promotion de la Jeunesse.

THE INVOLVEMENT OF YOUTH IN THE ELECTORAL PROCESS

In the framework of its program called "Liberals Thursdays", the Friedrich Naumann Foundation 

for Liberty, in partnership with the  Centre de Recherche d’Abidjan  (CRPA)  held  a conference 

entitled  "THE  INVOLVEMENT  OF  YOUTH  IN  THE  ELECTORAL  PROCESS  IN  COTE 

D'IVOIRE"  on  Thursday,  October  8,  2015  in  the  great  hall  of  the  West  African  Regional 

Episcopal Conference (WAREC) in Abidjan.  Dr.  Moquet  César  FLAN, a political scientist and 

director of the CRPA, had  responsibility to deliver that conference placed under the patronage of 

Mr Sidi TOURE,  the  Ivorian Minister of the Promotion of Youth. Prevented by  a  last minute 

stress, the Minister has sent one of his close associates to represent him and deliver the content of 

his opening speech.

At 14:10,  Mr Lacina  DIOMANDÉ, Director of Community Life  and Volunteering, representing 

the  Minister  for  the  Promotion  of  Youth,  addressed  the  audience.  After  presenting  the  sincere 

apologies  of  the  Minister  for  his  absence,  and  after  congratulating  the  Friedrich  Naumann

Foundation for its youth oriented activities, Mr Lacina  DIOMANDÉ  thanked the lecturer for his 

availability to inform youth about the electoral process.  Then, he read  the opening speech of the 

Minister whose  content is the following: the young feature  of the Ivorian population implies the 

important role of  the  youth  in the whole electoral process in  Côte d’Ivoire  and the fact that the 

youth enjoys his confidence.

Following  Mr.  Lacina  DIOMANDÉ,  Mrs  Sophie  KONATÉ,  Program  Officer  at  the  Friedrich 

Naumann Foundation, emphasizes the interest and the relevance of the theme of the conference. 

After the various speeches, Dr. Moquet César FLAN took the floor. Here is his full statement.

INTRODUCTION

Youth  is  defined  as  the  age  group  symbolizing  the  transition  period  from  adolescence  to 

adulthood, usually between 18 and 35 years. It can be identified as a social category.

Some  statistics  from  the  4

th

General  Census  of  Population  and  Housing  in  Côte  d’Ivoire

published by the National Statistics Institute on 5 August 2015 show that the place of youth in 

the general population as well as in the electoral population of 2015 is preponderant.

On a general population of 22,671,331 inhabitants:

- More than half the population is under 20 years;

- 77.3% is under 35 years, that is to say a little more than 3 persons on 4;

-  Young people between 15 and 34 years of age constitute 35% of the population; which results 

in extreme youth with a pyramid with a very broad base.

The electoral population of 2015 is  6 300 132 people  registered of which almost half is made up 

of young people between 18-35 years.

Due to the important place it occupies in the electorate, we can compare  the  Ivorian  youth  to 

what we call  “strategic pivot" in geopolitics. Whoever controls the strategic pivot controls  the 

island of the  world.  Whoever  commands the island of the world  commands  the  world.  (Halford

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John  MACKINDER)  This is the strength  of  the Ivorian youth  at  the  gate of the  2015 elections.

This  analysis  raises  a  concern:  what  should  be  his  involvement  in  the  electoral  process?  The 

answer to this question requires an inventory.

1.  THE INVENTORY 

This is  an afflicted  youth in the sense that it is  a youth from a developing  country. An afflicted

youth  made  more vulnerable by a  decade  of serious crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. This can be seen at 

various levels including unemployment, illiteracy, lack of training, and polarization in youth.

-  Youth  unemployment:  according to some  estimation,  at least 25 % of  young people under 35,

who  constitute  more  than  ¾  of  the  population,  are  unemployed.  Although  many  efforts  have 

been made  in recent years by the Government,  the phenomenon of unemployment itself makes 

young people vulnerable because of idleness. They can therefore meet any politician solicitation.

-  Youth  training:  in terms of education, Côte d'Ivoire has a predominantly illiterate population 

estimated at  51% of which 2/3 are women and  ¼  are  young people (UNESCO). It is true that 

significant advances are recorded at the academic training. However, training remains a major 

challenge.  In terms of political  training,  it should be noted that young people are not trained to 

the ideology of political parties. Their commitment is less linked to the ideal of the political party 

than the personality of the political party’s leader.

-  Youth  has  suffered  extremists  and  nationalist  ideas  spread  during  the  dark  years  of  Côte

d'Ivoire.  Youth  does  not  seem  to  have  everything  removed  and  remains  polarized  despite  the 

efforts  of  the  Ivorian  political  authorities,  the  partners  of  the  country,  the  civil  society  and 

religious  men  and  women.  Young  people  also  do  not  hesitate  to  get  carried  away  on  social 

networks during the debates on the current governance, with diatribes, insults, threats etc.

This brief inventory is based on three points that result from the military and political crisis or 

are amplified by it. The crisis has traumatized  Côte d'Ivoire  and its  youth. This situation could 

generate two concerns:

1. Should the Ivorian youth despair of politics and politicians?

2. Should the Ivorian youth remain indifferent to politics?

To answer the first  question, we say "no." These are dark days that are part of our history; dark 

years which, in  principle,  if properly appreciated, entail  the construction of the nation. Politics 

has its ups and downs. But, only politics allows to set up a system whose goal is to work to meet 

the  material  and  immaterial  needs  of  citizens.  So,  we  should  not  despair  of  politics  and 

politicians. We should rather help politicians to "stay on their feet". (Tony BLAIR)

To the second question  which necessarily derives  from the first  we also respond in the negative. 

Youth must play its part in politics. Whether by their involvement in politics in general (political 

interest) or by their participation in the election  in particular. We must  participate  in politics and 

the election for the simple reason that if you do not go to politics, it   will come to you. (Henri 

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LOPES)  However,  going  to  politics  does  not  mean  to  "get  down  to  politics".  (Silvio

BERLUSCONI)  Anyway,  everyone  can  not  be  a  municipal  councilor,  a  regional  councilor, 

Member  of  Parliament,  President  of  the  Republic  etc.  The  number  assigned  to  the  political 

functions  is limited. And the distribution of  the  social work justifies  its  representativeness.  The 

political participation takes into account the participation in the election. The electoral turn out is 

of interest to youth.  We should recall that the voting population is very young and it represents 

almost half of the electorate. It is a force, "the strategic pivot". If young people are aware of it 

and show themselves demanding on the political market, the political and institutional actors will 

absolutely take into account their expectations. So,  they  will compel  the political  actors to  more 

responsibility.

More:  Once  young  people  are  aware  of  their  strength,  their  status  as  "strategic  pivot"  or 

"central  pivot",  the  elections  only  remain  the  framework  of  the  expression  of  their 

contradictions. They automatically give up to the idea of violence.

But how should be the involvement of youth translated in the electoral process?

II- THE YOUTH AND THE ISSUES OF THE ELECTION

Youth involvement in the electoral process must occur at all stages of the process.

A-  Youth involvement in the pre-election period

This  involvement  could  take  the  form  of  contributions  at  the  stage  preceding  the  election 

campaign and during the campaign.

1- Contribution in the stage preceding the election

- Awareness campaigns for the inclusion of young people in the legal framework for the election

- Youth representation within the body in charge of the election

- Massive registration of youth on the electoral list

- Youth inclusion in the list of candidates

- Contribution to the popularization of the Electoral Code

2- Contribution to the stage of election campaigns

- Organization of online debates on the candidates’ programs

- Awareness of playful processes to civic and voters’ education

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B-  The contribution of young people in the electoral and post-electoral stages

1-  Contribution in the electoral stage

- Solid youth vote

-  The  young,  the  exploitable  work  force:  Agent  of  polling  stations,  election  observers, 

representatives of political parties etc.

- Support of vulnerable people (old, disabled ...) by young people to facilitate their voting.

2-  Contribution in the post-election period

- Respect for the young of the final election results

- In case of disputes of the results, use legal remedies

- Outreach to the refusal of attempted manipulation by politicians

-  Establishment  of  Early  Warning  Group  of  the  competent  authorities  in  the  districts  and 

villages by young people in case of threat to peace after the announcement of the election results

NB: For a good youth involvement in the electoral process, they need to be monitored by:

-  the  government  including  the  Ministry  for  the  Promotion  of  Youth  (popularizing  the 

electoral code, to show the youth that it is important);

-  the organs of the civil society active in the promotion of youth;

-  youth  movements  and  associations  of  religious  denominations  (Catholic  Student  Youth 

JEC; Association of Muslim Students and Pupils of Côte d'Ivoire AEEMCI etc.)

-  the youth of political parties

-  the main political actors (leaders of political parties, candidates or not);

-   religious men and women;

-   representatives  of  the  traditional  chiefs:  Here  it  will  be  to  educate  young  people  about 

African traditional values including respect for human life, respect for the authority and the 

elders;

-   the law: not to go against individual freedom but to remind young people that they do not 

have the right to do anything they want, including  attacks on  physical  integrity of persons, 

the destruction of private and public properties. 

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CONCLUSION

Youth has a major role to play in the electoral process. It is the main hinge of the electorate. The 

interest  of  youth  in  the  elections  compels  politicians  and  institutional  actors  involved  in  the 

process to more responsibility. Also, young people's  interest in the elections makes the various 

competitors  register their concerns as voting criteria.  Thus,  their interest in the elections alters 

the  character of the political market. Therefore, the fact that young people realize they are the 

force able to influence decisively the outcome of an election,  will lead them to turn away from 

violence.

 

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About Author

CRPA
L‘ idée de la création d’un centre de recherche m’est venue au printemps 2006 alors que j’étais étudiant en thèse de doctorat à l’Institut de Science Politique de l’Université d’Innsbruck, en Autriche. Ayant constaté auparavant le retard de l’Afrique en terme de développement politique par rapport à l’Europe occidentale et centrale, par rapport à l’Amérique du Nord ou encore par rapport à bien d’autres régions du Sud.

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