In democratic societies, governments are chosen through elections, where citizens can choose between several candidates or political parties. A vote is a formal expression of your support for a decision, a candidate, a selection of candidates or a party. Depending on your country, you can usually vote at municipal, regional, national and European level.
In most countries the legal voting age is 18, but when the right to vote was first established the limit was as high as 21. Now, the European Youth Forum has launched a Europe-wide campaign to lower the voting age to 16 , following the example of Austria, where the voting age is already 16.
In the 2009 European Parliament elections, only 29% of young people (aged 18-24) voted; and 50% of those asked stated that they had not received enough information about the elections. Young people will have the chance to increase these numbers in the next European elections. In June 2014 you will be able to choose your country’s Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
Good ways to find out about the issues in the election include reading the candidates' programmes, and talking to your parents or teachers. Some candidates even have their own Facebook page where you can have your questions answered. For the next European elections you can contact the European Parliament Information office that is closest to you.
If you're living abroad, you can still vote in your country’s national elections, while for the European Parliament elections, you can chose which country you want to vote for. Your EU voting rights also allow you to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections in the country where you live.
Next time you complain or feel something is not right in society, why don’t you try voting?