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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 00:59 GMT
Will the youth vote?
Ballot box
Young people are still willing to consider voting
Less than 20% of young people are absolutely certain they will use their vote at the forthcoming general election, according to a new survey.

This compares to some 50% of older adults who say they will definitely go to the polling booth - suggesting apathy and disillusionment are particularly prevalent among today's youth.

First time voting intentions
Certain not to vote 11%
Very unlikely to vote 10%
Unlikely to vote 10%
Quite likely to vote 21%
Very likely to vote 20%
Absolutely certain to vote 18%
Don't know 10%
However, the combined total of those who are absolutely certain, very likely or quite likely to vote (59%), exceeds the number who are unlikely, very unlikely or certain not to vote (31%).

This suggests that although their commitment to electoral democracy may be less vigorous than that of their older peers, young people are still willing to consider participating.

The survey - for Radio 1's Newsbeat - also found first time voters are mainly concerned about the same issues as older people, with health, crime and education ranking highly in their priorities.

Attitudes to illegal drugs are somewhat different, however, with a greater number of respondents for decriminalisation than those against.

Of those who supported reform, an overwhelming 92% chose cannabis as the substance they believed should be decriminalised.

Asked which political party had the best policies for tackling crime - an issue which has long been considered a Tory strength - 22% answered Labour, 13% Conservative, 3% Liberal Democrat, with 59% saying they did not know.

Less hostile

And asked which party they believed was best able to handle Britain's relationship with the European Union, 26% opted for Labour against 17% to the Tories, suggesting that younger voters may be less hostile to European integration than their elders.

Given a list of celebrities and asked to nominate their favoured fantasy prime minister, first time voters elevated Ali G to the country's most powerful office.

Mr G notched up recommendations from 24% of respondents, compared with Robbie William's 16% and Graham Norton's 11%.

A joint prime ministerial ticket of Posh 'n' Beck languished at the bottom, scoring 2%.

ICM conducted a poll of 1053 people aged 18-22.

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