Una Mullally: ‘Youthquake’ marks political awakening of millennials

Young people in Ireland have opportunity to emulate counterparts in Britain and US

A new report predicts that the housing crisis will be the news story of 2018. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A new report predicts that the housing crisis will be the news story of 2018. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

For its word of the year, the Oxford English Dictionary bravely opted for a word few use. “Youthquake” is not really about celebrating a word that was suddenly on everyone’s lips in 2017 (it wasn’t), but more about what it symbolises. The meaning behind it – the political awakening of millennials – is very real, if only there was a less cringey, try-hard word to encapsulate that.

The turnout of young voters in the 2017 British general election, the chants of Jeremy Corbyn’s name that filled the weed- and cider-heavy air of British music festivals, and the participants in the Women’s Marches globally – estimated to be about 10 million people – form some of the energy behind such a “youthquake”. The political engagement of millennials in the United States and Britain has occurred at a time of unprecedented political turmoil, so perhaps a youthquake cannot exist without a simultaneous societal tsunami.

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