Brussels, 24 May 2013
European elections: two out of three young people intend to vote
Almost two thirds (64%) of young Europeans intend to vote in the 2014 European Parliament elections whereas around one thirds (35%) say they are unlikely to do so, according to a Commission survey on youth participation in democratic life. Young people are less inclined to vote than their parents and show a growing dissatisfaction with the way politics works. Yet, young people want to participate and ask for more opportunities to have a say on politics. Young people show a strong European identity and a higher appreciation of European integration than other age groups.
"I want to raise awareness of the European Parliament elections and inform young people why it is important to vote. European Youth Week is an excellent opportunity to enhance young peoples' active participation in society and to showcase what has been achieved in the last 25 years of EU support for youth in Europe," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualismand Youth.
European Youth Week (26 May-2 June) will focus on young people's active citizenship participation in society. Hundreds of events will be organised in the 27 EU countries, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. The Youth week will also celebrate the silver anniversary of the EU's support for youth which helped around 2.5 million young people and youth workers to participate in cross-border exchanges, European Voluntary Service and other non-formal learning activities.
Young people's intention to vote is 75% or above in Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and 55% or lower in Cyprus, Greece, Estonia, Czech Republic and Slovenia. The survey shows also that among those who intend to vote around one third (28%) is certain that they will do so, whereas 11% say they will definitely not vote. Among those who are likely to vote, nine in ten would do so because they believe that democracy, Europe and the European elections are important. Among those who are not likely to vote two out of three believe that their vote will not change anything.
The survey was done in April 2013 among 13 000 young people aged 15 to 30 in the 27 EU Member States and 500 young people in Croatia. The objective was to study young peoples' attitudes towards participation in society and in the European elections in 2014.
35% of young Europeans say they have been active in a sports club within the past year, followed by youth organisation (22%), local organisation (15%) and cultural organisation (14%). However, 44% of young Europeans are not involved in any organisation. Those who participated in at least one activity or organisation are more likely to consider standing as a candidate in a political election at some point in their life (23% against 14% who have not participated) and are also more likely to vote in the European elections. Respondents who have not participated in any of the activities are less likely to be interested in politics or elections (53% against 41% who have participated).
There is a growing dissatisfaction among young people with the way politics work according to the Commission study realised by the London School of Economics on "Youth participation in Democratic life". Young people want to participate in politics by being listened to and involved in different ways. Internet and new technologies are seen as means for improved participation. Young people also request more information about politics and elections and consider specific institutional settings that could improve their participation and representation. Grassroots and community-based youth organisations are successful in motivating young people to get involved.
Young people consider themselves more than any other age group as citizens of the European Union, according to the Commission report on "EU citizenship and political participation amongst young people". 69% of the young respondents (against approximately 60% from the older age group) believe that being part of the European Union is part of their citizenship. Only 30% of young Europeans state that they feel exclusively citizens of their country (against approximately 38% from the older age group).
The current Youth in Action programme aims to inspire a sense of active citizenship, solidarity and tolerance among young Europeans and to involve them in shaping the Union's future. The new programme for education, training, youth and sport, Erasmus for All, will continue to support youth projects in 2014-2020.
European Youth Week
The 25th anniversary of EU youth programmes will be celebrated at an event on 31st May in Brussels. It will include a political debate on the value of youth participation and will award outstanding Youth in Action projects. A marquee showcasing projects will be mounted on the Esplanade of the European Parliament on 30-31 May 2013.
A conference on the EU's Structured Dialogue with young people and youth organisations will take place 27-29 May in Brussels. It will gather representatives of National Working Groups from member states. The conference will share best practice in conducting the Structured Dialogue and will draw up conclusions on its future development.
For more information
European Commission: Youth
Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU