One of the main aspirations for Argentina’s politicians in the final stretch of the PASO primary campaign has been grabbing the youth vote, a segment where a crisis-stricken government seems to have lost its preponderance. Tempting plunder – the 16-29 age-group represents 30 percent of the electorate, or well over 10 million possible votes.
That’s why in the last few weeks of campaigning we have seen government candidate Victoria Tolosa Paz talking about sex in Peronism in a forum with good outreach to Kirchnerite militants; opposition politicians City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Diego Santilli circulating in their ‘Santileta’; libertarian Javier Milei blasting the former as “a worm”; FIT leftists filming a spot to convince the young not to vote for Milei; and almost everybody talking about marijuana.
Do these strategies have the right focus? Pollsters and pundits detect flaws in the knowhow of campaign headquarters when it comes to talking to the young. “It’s not a homogeneous sector, there’s plenty of diversity in voting terms,” maintains Lucas Romero, of Synopsis. “It’s a very complex agenda.”
Shila Vilker, of Trespuntozero, has identified four categories for youth, a segment with which she has been working in both quantitative and qualitative terms. She divides them into “anti-system, progressives, the don’t knows/don’t answer and young people with old ideas.” The difficulty for campaign strategists, according to this logic, is that they end up generating messages for one of these categories, while forgetting the rest.
The first – “anti-system” – are interested in politics but reject the politicians for the most part, responding passionately to liberal ideas. Today Javier Milei or José Luis Espert are the leaders who best address this public. Yet Romero explains: “Half of Espert voters are aged under 30, yet he is not the strongest in that age segment.”
The “progres” are dedicated to progressive causes like veganism, the environment or feminism. Their greatest proximity had been with Frente de Todos but that bond is now frayed – the left is also reaching them.
Vilker’s “young people with old ideas” maintain the same coordinates as their parents and grandparents – education and hard work are deeply rooted concepts and they seek politics which provide solutions to these demands. Their DNA is Peronist without being militant and they don’t mind recognising that they like some Juntos por el Cambio leaders.
Finally, the “don’t knows/don’t answer” are the most alienated from and disenchanted with politics and therefore the hardest to reach.