European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.

Youth and the European elections

The end of May is an important date for the youth of European Union. At least it should if anyone would be interested in the elections. What is the reason of the disinterest of young people? What kind of programs can the parties offer them?

The motto of European elections 2014 is “Act, react, impact”. The member states hold their elections between 22-25 May when the residents of EU elect 751 delegates for the next 5 years. Voters can influence through these delegates the political trends, and they decide indirect which directions should Europe choose in the future and how does the EU manage the challenges of the future. In Hungary the election will be held on 25th of May and 21 Hungarian delegates will be elected for the European Parliament, which is the only directly elected institute of the Union.


The first European Parliament election was hold in 1979 and almost 62% of the residents voted for a party, but unfortunately the participation is continuously decreasing. This negative tendency is present not only in the European Parliament but in the national elections as well. The younger generations are the least interested, in 2009 only 29% of the youth voted at the elections. But what could be the reason? May they feel that the parties let them down? Or are they just confused because of the infinite number of parties and programs? Do they have a clue, who they should vote for? Or are they just too lazy, disinterested?


Low participation among the youth as well


In the last few years, EU has started several programs, initiatives to involve young people to its institutional work and help entrants to find a job. One of these programs is EYE 2014, which was hold at the beginning of May and created a possibility for European youth to tell their problems, fears and make suggestions for the European Parliament to create a better Europe. The Youth Guarantee program, the Erasmus program, and the European Youth Forum work toward that more and more youth take place in the formation of the life of European Union. But the participation of youth is still very low, because it lasts for years to change the mentality.


One of the reasons of low participation is the complex system. The majority of citizens of EU are not aware of the European political system, and of the distribution of the delegates in the Parliament. So there is a need for a simpler, transparent system. Youth are interested in things which directly affect their lives, for example education and employment. They don't care about the programs of political parties because the decision-making process takes place thousands of kilometers from them, in Brussels. A lot of them, especially the ones without a job feel that politicians left them alone with their problems. They lost the belief that they can change something, they don't believe in the importance of their vote and in the chance to form the democracy. It would be necessary to give them the hope back. The biggest challenge for the politicians is to explain the youth that their vote really matters, that the politics can be interesting and their vote has an effect on their everyday life. This is just as true for the EU level as for the national ones.


Decrease of youth unemployment


One of the most important programs of the parties is to decrease unemployment among young people. But they imagine it differentially. European People's Party wants that employers should be supported by tax incentives; skill-based education and simpler bureaucracy. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe thinks that creating jobs should be left to companies themselves. It should be given bigger margin for free labor market, companies and creative young people. Free trade in the whole world can create new jobs, and it even helps developing countries to find a way out of poverty.


While the European Socialists encourage the continuation of the Youth Guarantee program, the Greens suggests its transformation. According to the Greens, the member states didn't integrate the program well, so it is unsuitable to create new jobs. In their opinion there should be more source invested and for entrants should be real support provided.


What do you think about it? Are you convinced by the programs of parties? Are you going to participate at European elections?


Alexandra Soós