Fine Gael should field at least one candidate under 30 in each area of local government at the next local elections, according to an internal report, noting that the party’s youth wing is “struggling” and “ideologically obsessed”.
The report, compiled by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, who chairs the Fine Gael Youth Commission, also finds that the party’s policies on home ownership and rental costs are not resonating with young people.
The report, seen by Independent.ie, identified concerns that the brand of Young Fine Gael, the youth wing of the party founded by Garret FitzGerald 47 years ago, was “battered” as it was internally focused and involved with deal with niche topics.
Mr Harris’ report states that YFG has “become ideologically obsessed with a conservative/liberal discourse unparalleled elsewhere in Fine Gael or in the Irish public”.
A poll of YFG members found that around 95 per cent of them “do not support any politics of the far left or far right, showing that Fine Gael’s youth wing is firmly centrist in its views”.
The Commission recommends removing the age limit of 35 for membership in the YFG and instead targeting younger members, particularly those in full-time education or training. All Fine Gael recruitment campaigns should have a specific focus on attracting female and heterogeneous members under the age of 25, the report said.
The report recommends a “special course for candidates under the age of 30” and that the party should aim for a young candidate for a seat in each local government in the next local elections in 2024.
Care should also be taken to ensure that at least two of Fine Gael’s candidates in the next general election, due to be held in 2025, are under the age of 30.
The party should also promote and develop its women’s, LGBT and intercultural networks.
Within the party’s internal feedback, 93 per cent of respondents felt that Fine Gael should highlight more issues for young people.
The commission set up by Leo Varadkar in May 2021 was tasked with examining party structures, political issues and communications. It met at 12 internal meetings and hosted around 25 organizations working with and for young people.
The panel conducted an internal survey of YFG members, 72 percent of whom were male, and used an internal youth panel conducted by a polling firm, resulting in a survey of over 800 young people between the ages of 18 and 35.
The external survey found that only 13 percent of women would join a political party if invited, compared to 26 percent of men. Only 10% of respondents would consider joining a youth organization of a political party.
Noting that housing is the key issue for young people, the commission concluded that it will be the issue that will decide the fate of Fine Gael among younger voters. Fine Gael’s policy approach to this issue has not resonated well with young people and the Commission recommended that the ruling party implement the Housing for All policy program and communicate and engage with young voters on renting and home ownership.
The report also states that there should be a gender, equality and youth assessment of politics.
Mr Harris told Independent.ie: “The work of the Youth Commission and its recommendations should mark a new chapter in Fine Gael’s relationship with young people. One where we make sure their voices are heard. One where their views are respected. One where they are empowered to bring about change.
“I look forward to presenting the recommendations to my party colleagues – the Parliament Party, Councillors, Young Fine Gael and the wider constituency – in the coming weeks.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/fine-gael-should-run-at-least-one-candidate-under-30-in-every-local-authority-area-says-internal-party-report-41547533.html Fine Gael is to field at least one candidate under 30 in each local authority area, according to an internal party report