Centre de Recherche Politique d'Abidjan

Conference October 8, 2015

Conference October 8, 2015
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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