Europe’s Generation Gap

We’re seeing among the young animosity against the older ones for tilting the referendum towards the exit, without a corresponding awareness that, instead of relying on other voters to represent their interests, the young have to become politically active and start voting using their own brains. The divisive referendum campaign has stirred animosity between UK’s nations, north-south, east-west, rich v. poor – and young and old. Instead of getting people together and giving them a chance to debate and exchange ideas, it has stirred the latent racism and revived every grudge imaginable. Well done, Farage, Johnson and accomplices, most of whom have gone into hiding.

The Brexit referendum is a case in point. Although the vote was about the future of the United Kingdom, only 36 percent of Britons aged 18 to 24 showed up to the ballot box, as opposed to 83 percent of those over 65. Young people are overwhelmingly pro-European, and if more of them had voted, Britain would not be a departing member of the European Union. (Some millennials are now accusing their parents, not their peers, of having deprived them of a bright future.)

The author discusses making pensioners work, instead of enjoying an idle retirement. Besides the unfair stigma attached to pensioners for enjoying the fruit of their own labour after contributing for decades to the economy, the pensions of the previous generation and their own, it’s a good idea, but it will require changing rules which make it impossible to work past the retirement age in many countries. Part-time work would also be an interesting approach to the issue, which requires an intelligent discussion, not an adversarial one.

Brexit exposed a major tension in European politics: the outsized political and economic influence of its older citizens. European governments should pursue reforms that help re-orient politics toward the future.

Source: Europe’s Generation Gap

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