The leader of Britain’s Labour Party credited U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with some of his social democratic campaign planks, telling the writer Naomi Klein that he embraced comparisons with the Vermont senator.
“Bernie called me the day after our election here,” Jeremy Corbyn said in an interview published Thursday by the Intercept. “I was half-asleep watching something on television. And Bernie comes on to say, well done on the campaign, and I was interested in your campaigning ideas. Where did you get them from? And I said, well, you, actually.”
Corbyn, who won the leadership of the Labour Party in 2015 and held it after a 2016 challenge, has frequently been cited by Sanders as an example of how left politics can win. This year, a snap election that began with predictions about Corbyn driving Labour into the wilderness ended with a series of surprise gains, and Prime Minister Theresa May clinging to power in a controversial deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. According to a post-election analysis by Ipsos Mori, over half of eligible British voters under age 30 turned out — double the youth turnout rate in some American elections. That led to surprising Labour gains in cities with large universities, with student turnout overturning large Conservative majorities.
“There’s a lesson to be learned from what Corbyn did in the U.K.,” said Sanders in a recent interview with The Washington Post. “The remarkable thing about his election — and he did better than I did — was that among younger people, the voter turnout was as high as it was among the general population. That was unprecedented.”
In recent elections, Democrats have succeeded in pushing up youth turnout just twice — when Barack Obama was on the ballot. In 2010 and 2014, youth turnout plunged. And in this year’s special elections, youth turnout edged up only slightly. In Jon Ossoff’s near-miss bid for Georgia’s 6th congressional district, 17.2 percent of the electorate consisted of millennials. That was up from 14 percent in the race’s April primary — but millennials made up 25 percent of all eligible voters.
“If we can take the voter turnout in this country from 60 percent to 70 percent, which is where it was in the U.K., and bring young people into the electoral process, Democrats would win a landslide victory,” said Sanders.