Already at their young age, some are immersed in politics, others have built themselves in activism, militancy or in movements and associations. More educated, from more advantaged backgrounds than the average elected, candidates under 40 have a particular profile. In Benin, as a prelude to the municipal deadlines, we toured a few places and gathering places a little before the evolution of the current health crisis to meet some young candidates. We have followed others on media and social networks. Regardless of their political party, our only criterion was their age, associated with a status of neo-engaged in a campaign. Indeed very few are those who reach the milestone. Why do they get involved? At an age of life marked by strong identity transitions, why do these people allow themselves to believe in it despite everything?
Young elected representatives only represent a small or even negligible portion of elected officials in Benin and Africa.
In Africa, the latter take a severe look at the political world. They undoubtedly have their ideas and their convictions, but the insatiable quest for power of the elders does not allow them to find their place in the political arena. Note also that all of them do not often have the means, especially financial, before starting out since money is (unfortunately) a determining factor for success in politics. The great ideologies which carried post-independence youth all over the world and particularly in Africa no longer make them dream so much, and politics in general leaves them rather indifferent. And yet, they like to learn and react on major social issues via social networks.
The real reasons young people are in politics these days
The search for easy money and excessive ambitions are frequent causes of the presence of many young people in politics. Politics seems like a shortcut to a successful life, many young people think. And they are not wrong to think so since those who are well informed and a little influential get away with it even if there are prices to pay. Everything suggests that we are from the movement or the opposition, politics is profitable if you know how to use your pawns. In Africa and especially in Benin, politics has always played its part in major public procurement offers and major public and private functions. Many young people no longer hesitate to get into politics so that it offers them enormous business opportunities. Many are the reasons that push young people to get into politics.
On the other hand, fortunately we have well-aware young people who decide to take up development challenges by taking an interest in politics. Most of them want to change the trend and shatter the myth that politics is only for seniors in Africa. Today more than ever, young people want to take matters into their own hands and no longer always suffer.
If some do happen to be elected, what do we notice?
When we analyze their profile, most were members of an association before their election, and many of them are “politically socialized”, that is to say that their entourage is imbued with politics or activism, in a way more or less direct. Moreover, they are more qualified than the average of young people and elected officials of all ages. They also evolve in more privileged environments. Only a small number are workers, craftsmen, etc., and are in politics.