THE BLOG

#InMyShoes: Your Voice, Your Choice

29/04/2015 14:04 BST | Updated 27/06/2015 10:59 BST

With 138 candidates in 18 constituencies across Northern Ireland contesting for their seat at the House of Commons at Westminster in the 2015 General Election, Northern Irish parties intend to be more than simple spectators in this May's General Election. In fact, Northern Ireland could be key players in the make-up of the next British Government.

Current indications would suggest that the UK could be facing a hung parliament. Neither the pundits nor the polls however can predict who will win the election at this stage.

Northern Ireland's largest party in the last Parliament, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which had eight MPs could have a significant role in deciding which party leads a hung parliament, should none emerge with a majority after the election. Could it be that some of Northern Ireland's political parties might just hold the keys to 10 Downing Street and be in a very powerful position come 8 May?

With the prospect that the regions are expected to play a critical role in determining who will enter No. 10 as the UK's next Prime Minister it is disheartening to note that none of Northern Ireland's parties have had a voice in the leader's debates which have been broadcast on television in recent weeks. Northern Ireland has effectively been 'unvoiced' as a constituent part of the United Kingdom.

With little logic to Northern Ireland's exclusion in the leader's debates, as a young Northern Irish voter this was somewhat concerning given that it is Northern Irish representatives who are waving the flag for me in our British Government.

Representation in the recent leader's debate of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru, (both parties whom occupy less MP seats than Northern Ireland's DUP might I add) is a recognition that the politics in the devolved nations now matters on the UK-wide electoral platform. So the question I ask, why not Northern Ireland's parties too?

Election debates should reflect the complexity of the country and the united union, not diminish it from existence. To coin a phrase, we are all in this together.

Northern Ireland matters in the wider national conversation too, which is why the entire UK electorate, not just voters here in Northern Ireland, should be able to hear what our Northern Irish representatives have to say on a wider platform.

Despite Northern Ireland's Executive parties not having a voice in the recent leader's debates, as a young voter I have come to recognise the importance of having a voice as a young person in the political arena, not only here in Northern Ireland but right across the UK in shaping the future of the British Government.

As a contributor to BBC Generation 2015, a UK-wide group of young voters who have been taking part in local and national BBC programmes in the run up to the General Election in May, it is heartening to see that although political alliances and opinion on topics may differ across the UK, that there is one thing that we all have in common. We aspire to be ambassadors of our era, we are passionate about ensuring that young people here in the UK have a voice in the political arena and it is that voice in which we are united.

Young people in the UK aspire to have representatives that reach out, representatives that deliver on the commitments that they have pledged and most importantly representatives that cherish the voices of the generation of our youth.

In the words of Malala Yousafzai, the young educational activist and Novel Prize winner;

"When the world becomes silent even one voice can become powerful."

Essentially we are the voice and the future of our country. It's your voice and it's your choice.

Your voice is a powerful tool - use it effectively to help shape our government and your future on the 7 May.

Part of the BBC initiative, #InMyShoes for @InMyUK. Join the conversation on Twitter, watch more of our videos on YouTube and find us on Facebook.

This blog was written by Victoria Poole, who's a BBC Generation 2015 contributor. Her views are entirely her own.