'Democracy Day' Gets The Student Vote

18 February 2010

The Atrium Kedleston Road location for 'Democracy Day'.

Organisers are hoping the Democracy Day will encourage more student interest in the political process.

For a lot of students this year's General Election will be the first they have been eligible to vote in

Trevor Austin, UDSU Democracy Officer

With a General Election imminent, prospective MPs will get an early taste of political debate and meeting their constituents during a Democracy Day at the University of Derby.

The all day event at the University's Kedleston Road site, Derby, on Monday February 22 will see students debating what democracy means, learning about the UK Parliament, quizzing prospective Derbyshire MPs from different parties on issues such as education and - most importantly - registering to vote before the upcoming General Election (which must be held no later than Thursday June 3 this year).

Attractions during the day organised by the University of Derby Students Union (UDSU) will include:

  • A Democracy Fair with stalls featuring Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates. Representatives from the Green, United Kingdom Independence and English Democrats parties have also been invited;
  • A 'Speaker's Corner' where students can really 'get on their soapbox' and express an opinion;
  • Games and activities, such as a 'build your own politician' challenge;
  • Short films about the importance of voting and clips from the BBC Parliament series The A-Z of Parliament.

There will also be public debates on students' involvement in the community and the future of education, led by University academics. Contributions during the day will include those from prospective parliamentary candidates for the constituencies of Derby North, Derby South, Derbyshire Dales and Mid-Derbyshire.

The UDSU event is supported by Derby City Council, who will be registering students to vote; the Parliamentary Outreach service, which informs people about the work of Parliament; and the National Union of Students.

Trevor Austin, UDSU Democracy Officer, said: "For a lot of students this year's General Election will be the first they have been eligible to vote in.

"There is a lot of apathy among young people about how relevant mainstream politics is to them, so we organised this event to show students how important it is that they have their democratic 'say' in the running of the country."

Caleb Jackson, President of the UDSU, added: "Students represent around 15% of the working age population in the UK, making them a powerful democratic tool if properly motivated.

"The politicians may even learn something from us, through this event.

"The annual election system the UDSU uses to choose its officers, which I was elected under, allows a student's vote to be transferred to their next favourite candidate as other runners are eliminated. This is similar to the 'alternative vote' system the Government is only now talking about bringing in nationally."

For further media information please contact Press and PR Officer Sean Kirby on 01332 591891 or 07876 476103, or email s.kirby@derby.ac.uk.

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