How Will Gen Z Vote In The UK General Election?

Izzy Hall

Next month, the UK will hold a crucial general election that could determine the future of Brexit, the NHS, climate action and many other major issues. It will also be the first election in which many members of Generation Z (born 1995-2010) are able to vote. What are the factors impacting their decisions, and how will their participation in the election affect the result?

Brexit is big news

People of all ages are treating the election as a second referendum on leaving the EU, which means they may vote for the party that supports their view on Brexit, even if it’s not the one they’d usually support. For new voters, party stances on Brexit could determine where their first vote goes. In a Voxburner survey earlier this year, over 70% of 16-24s told us they expected Brexit to negatively impact their quality of life, finances, career opportunities and housing, so we can assume that anti-Brexit parties the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and the SNP will have strong appeal. However, the 20% who think life will be better after Brexit are likely to go for the Conservatives or Brexit Party.

Going green

According to YouGov, the environment is the third biggest issue impacting votes overall, following Brexit and health. In response, parties are pledging to tackle the climate crisis in their manifestos. 18-24s are already more likely than other age groups to vote for the Green Party, but as the topic of climate change has become central to youth activism in 2019, this could increase the party’s popularity. Additionally, the Conservatives have announced they will halt the harmful practice of fracking, while Labour have promised substantial investment in clean energy. They have also called for a TV debate on the subject of climate change, which could have a big impact on the youth vote if it goes ahead.

Social is key

Social media conversation and campaigns are expected to have a huge impact on the 2019 election, and this will be especially true for the digital native vote. While Twitter recently announced a ban on political advertising, there are no such rules on Instagram, the platform which 16-24s tell us has the best ads, so this could be a key battleground for the Gen Z vote. Parties that demonstrate an understanding of social platforms by creating engaging content that neither patronises nor confuses young voters will earn their respect. They can also use social listening to understand the issues that are most important to this demographic and what will influence their vote.

Parental influence

Traditionally, political affiliations were passed down through family generations. Is this still the case? Research has shown that young people are more likely to vote if their parents are voters themselves, especially if politics is a hot topic at home. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll automatically vote for the same party as their parents. A 2018 US study found that less than half of Americans accurately perceive their parents’ political leanings and adopt those beliefs. Family is one of many factors influencing voter decisions, along with friends, the media, and personal circumstances. Young people’s priorities differ from their parents because they’re in a different stage in life.

Voter turnout

The youth vote is expected to be out in force on 12th December. Almost a third of the 300,000 people who registered to vote in the days after the election was announced were under 25. 2019 has demonstrated that Gen Z are passionate about current issues and ready to take action to protect their futures, from taking part in the Global Climate Strike to joining the millions petitioning for the government to revoke Article 50. Our research this year has shown that this group sees themselves as a generation of activists, so the election is their opportunity to prove it’s not all talk.

However they decide to vote, it’s clear that the current generation of young people don’t see politics as boring or irrelevant. After witnessing how voting can directly impact their lives and local communities, we predict youth participation will be high in the 2019 election: from voter turnout to driving the conversation on social media and holding political leaders to account. With such high interest, youth marketers should consider how they can take part in an authentic and unbiased way, from encouraging conversation around key issues to driving youth voter registration.

To hear more about how Gen Z are challenging stereotypes of young people and taking action to protect their future, join us at our Youth Marketing Strategy events.


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