New international students at Keene State College said that student involvement with politics is quite different from back home.
With the primary closing in, campaign advertisements have been expanding and the international students said that it has been hard not to notice the student involvement with politics.
University of Derby, England, student Emily Shaw said, “There are a lot of student organizations here that are campaigning and volunteering. I’ve seen a lot of Bernie Sanders. I’ve not seen much of anything else. Students seem to get a lot more involved in politics over here. Back home, a lot of young people see it as boring to be honest. Young people just don’t get involved in politics; it’s more like what old people do.”
Shaw added, “I was walking through Keene the other day and there were loads of people going around with badges, banners, stickers, things like that. Back home, you might just get a few fliers through the door or you might see an ad on television after the news, but it’s not really a big deal. America seems to involve the public a lot with politics.”
An international student from France commented on the student involvement in Keene.
Catholic University of Lille, France student Florian Lefebvre said, “French students are not very involved with politics. I think American students are more involved with politics because I see more flags and banners. The campus people are wearing ‘I vote for Trump’ or ‘I vote for Bernie.’’ It’s completely different in France because it’s kind of taboo there. People don’t say who they are voting for.”
An international student from Ireland said that Americans are more informed in politics than in Ireland.
National University of Ireland in Galway student Mark Dooley said, “Americans seem to be more aware. There seems to be a lot more emphasis on going to rallies. We don’t have people coming in like Bernie Sanders coming into a college and talking.”
International students explained the differences between American politics and politics back home.
Shaw said, “We have MPs [Members of Parliament] back in England. Each constituency, that’s based on population, votes for an MP and then overall, the party with the most votes in each constituency forms a government.”
Shaw continued, “In each constituency, you vote for a candidate. So it would be conservative, labor or whatever. Then, in each constituency, the candidate with the majority vote gets the seat. In Parliament overall, the party with the most seats across the whole country, they form a government.”
Areas with the highest population have the most constituencies and the most representation in Parliament according to Shaw.
Lefebvre explained how politics work in France.
“For the elections in France, it’s not the same way to vote. In France, we vote directly for the president. We don’t have primaries;each state votes in the same day. Then, the president is elected just once. France just has one vote. Elections are quicker in France,” Lefebvre said.
Lefebvre continued, “In France, we don’t have enough money to organize the same events, so it’s more quiet. We speak more about politics for the party, more than just one person, we support the party. America is different than France with politics.”
Lefebvre said that learning about politics in America is important to him because he is studying foreign policy.
“I am lucky actually because I am learning the American presidential campaigns so it’s very important for me. It could have good effects for me. Maybe more aware in policy and politics is important for me and for the country. It’s good to be more aware in politics,” Lefebvre said.
Lefebvre mentioned that the only American candidates he knew of were Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
“Maybe it’s because of the European point of view. From our point of view, you just have two candidates. Maybe it is our fault; I don’t know. Maybe communication could be better from America to Europe about the candidates,” Lefebvre said.
Dooley explained how politics in Ireland compares to America.
Dooley said, “So if we were having this presidential election, he’s [the president] the figurehead. He is not as he is here, the commander and chief. We have a Taoiseach , who would be our prime minister. The parliament [Taoiseach] runs the country. Our president is more of a figurehead.”
Dooley continued, “We still have Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labor, Sinn Féin. There are about four or five different parties then even dependent TD’s [Teachtaí Dála], they’ve merged. It’s a lot different than just the two sides, the Democrats and the Republicans.”
Dooley pointed out how political candidates advertise their campaigns.
“Our country is so small. It’s more door-to-door canvassing you see a lot. It’s the parties that you vote for. You’re voting for your local TD. Then it is the TD that vote for the Taoiseach. It’s completely different here,” Dooley said.
Dooley explained what it would take for younger people in Ireland to see a political candidate.
“We wouldn’t have a lot of people show up unless you are involved in politics or in a political party back home. The younger members, you would have Sinn Féin youths or Fianna Fáil youths and you have a younger member, unless you were apart of that organization, you wouldn’t really be following politics as a student,” Dooley said.
Dooley continued, “You wouldn’t go to a rally unless they were taking away free education or taking away something else, then we would rally.”
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