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Young people and devolution in Wales

9 August 2013

New research, launched today at the National Eisteddfod suggests that young people are still as undecided about devolution as they were in 1997.

Research by UK's Changing Union: Ein Dyfodol, a group set up specifically to look at the effects of the changing Union on our younger generation, suggests that a significant proportion of the young voters in Wales still choose the "don't know" option when asked what their constitutional preference for Wales is.

The UK's Changing Union (UKCU) project is a joint initiative between the University's Wales Governance Centre, the Institute for Welsh Affairs and Tomorrow's Wales/Cymru Yfory. Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Nuffield Foundation, the project is looking at the future of the Union and the Welsh devolution settlement.

In a decade and a half of devolution the research indicates that there hasn't been any drop in the numbers of young people who "don't know" about how they would like Wales to be run. These low levels of recognition for devolution also link up with recent polling which shows that 23% of the Welsh population don't know who the First Minister of Wales is (see point 3 in the notes below).

Ein Dyfodol believes this is part of a wider reflection of the lower levels of engagement seen among young people with conventional politics. The complexity of Wales's devolution arrangements may also be a particular turn-off for those already disinclined to be interested in conventional politics.

Matthew Francis, chair of the UKCU: Ein Dyfodol group, said: "It's quite frightening that at a time when important decisions are being taken with regards to the Welsh constitutional settlement that the number of young voters who feel they don't know what their preference is still proportionately high.

"This is a wake-up call for everyone involved in raising awareness of the democratic process in Wales for the need to ensure that people know and understand how devolution works in Wales."