Mirka Johanna Virtanen is one of the three candidates for Deputy Spokesperson of the Wales Green Party. We have sent this survey out to all candidates for Deputy and Leader and will post their responses as we get them.
What will you do to support the Wales Young Greens in their growth?
It is important that as a party, we regularly consult Wales Young Greens themselves as to how much and what kind of support the group needs to grow, ensuring we then deliver this support. It is for the benefit of every Wales Green Party member that the Wales Young Greens succeed and become a prominent green voice in Wales and in grassroots politics. It is clear that the talent our young members have should not go to waste but should be nurtured and supported. As a deputy leader, I would continue working closely with the spokespeople of Wales Young Greens. Whilst it might seem we should seek to grow our membership amongst students, we should be careful not to exclude any other group – such as those who cannot afford or do not wish to go to university. As a party, we should aspire to be able to offer an alternative education and a platform to young people from all kinds of different backgrounds. To ensure this, as a deputy leader, I would work with Wales Young Greens to increase our diversity through community and student engagement across Wales.
Why is youth engagement important not only for Politics but for the Wales Green Party?
The average age of an elected politician across Europe is 53 years old. In the UK, most MPs are over 40 years old. The world of someone of 40+ is completely different to someone who is under 30 today. The problems people face are different. The prospects young people can expect to have are different – in terms of financial or job security, they are worse. It is clear that young people would benefit from more representation. As a political party, it is our responsibility to provide a platform and the resources. A young person’s world today is not only less stable, it is also more diverse, conscious and transparent. If we want to create the huge shifts in thinking that are necessary to mitigate climate change, for example, we need young people not only to be able to represent themselves, but the rest of us also.
Have you already done something to support Wales Young Greens in any way?
I helped to set up the Wales Young Greens group – this was before I turned 30 last year! I have also worked closely with Wales Young Greens Co-Convener Andrew Creak on press releases and media relations. I am looking forward to being able to help with more.
Finally, why should the youth and student members of the Wales Green Party vote for you for Spokesperson / Deputy?
I am a fresh voice wanting to promote young people’s interests within our party and externally. I will work with Wales Young Greens to expand membership and campaign for more diversity. I want to find a way for young people across Wales to benefit from the same things that have immensely benefitted me – multiculturalism, freedom of movement, internationalism – whether we are in the EU or not. I believe that the Wales Green Party is better positioned than other political parties to promote inclusivity in youth engagement. I would work together with Wales Young Greens to create a framework within which these aims can be realised.