The Guest Blog

Guest post by: Simone d’Antonio, Board Member, European Youth Press

71% per cent of young Europeans did not vote in European elections. When the topic of next European Parliament elections is debated in Strasbourg, MEPs should take into account the figures of this particular aspect of the question, that risks to became an emergency of democratic support even more serious than the lack of trust of young people and national public opinions to European Union.

The figure mentioned above, that shows a drop of youth participation compared with EP elections in 2004 (when only 33 per cent of young people voted), puts out a decisive challenge to European and national politicians, political parties, youth associations and media, which have the duty to give better and more coherent information to young people, to make them aware of the importance of their electoral participation.

The lack of a reliable European public opinion is strongly noticeable mainly when the topics related to the electoral participation of youth is discussed from different points of view. Concerning young electors, the absence of youth-related topics in the electoral programmes is combined to the lack of effort of political parties in involving this particular category, ignored maybe because considered as a minority not interested to the vote at all.

By the media side, it is even harder to inform on the importance of the vote of young people to European elections if journalists need to make continuously reference to initiatives and programmes such as Erasmus and Leonardo as almost unique methods of youth involvement created by the European Union in favour of young people.

Especially in the current economic crisis period, that pushes national governments and political parties to face emergencies rather than planning a political vision for the future, the debate on the next European elections appears still far but this short-sighed vision is wrong. There is a strong need to act as soon as possible if the EU wants that a true, democratic legitimation by young people to the next elected European Parliament, as well for the rest of European institutions.

Fostering European political families and national parties to address directly to young people with a youth-friendly platform of concrete proposals can help to enable a stronger interest of youth on European topics but also to give new topics and occasions of research and reporting to the media. It can help to bring under the spotlights this particular category of people, the young voters, who risk to become the most noticeably absent category of people of the European political debate of the future.

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