Elections are a vital part of democracy. First time voters usually abstain more than older voters, delegating their future to the older generation.


What are your ideas for a high mobilisation of your peers on-line and in real life? Can we close the “turnout gap” between young and old voters?

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Please try to be as concrete as possible when answering the questions, the more in depth you go the more impactful your ideas will be!


Possible solution: Introducing a lower age-restriction for voting (16 years), especially in municipality elections, in combination with more political education in schools starting at an early age. Youth often feel discouraged to take part in politics because they are not old enough to vote. If politics are taught in schools at the time when youth are allowed to vote, it might encourage more engagement and participation. Encouraging youth to vote at a lower age will also help target a broader audience of voters and helping them bring their engagement into their adult lives, thus helping to close the "turnout gap".

Votes: 2

Pour que les jeunes s'intéressent à l'Europe faites parler ceux qui y travaillent! Montrer les projets et les avancés. L'Europe est assimilée à l'image de fonctionnaires et de gens en reunion qui n'arrivent pas à se mettre d'accord. Montrer l'échange entre les générations. Gallileo par exemple, combien connaisse ce projet de GPS Européen? Comment peut on travailler pour l"Europe! Votre site ne donne pas envie de s'y frotter, il faut montrer une Europe qui respire et non pas une image poussiéreuse.

Votes: 11

Let me start this with a disclaimer: I believe that voter turnount is an important element in assessing how our democracy is functioning, especially on the EU level. I find problematic however that the importance and correlation between elections and voter turnout has acquired a very specific, simplistic connotation, especially as portrayed in all kinds of media: (1) that EU’s legitimacy is (dis)proven through a quantitative assessment of voter turnout during European Parliament elections, and (2) national parliaments de facto are "more" legitimate- (yet again because of higher voter turnout in comparison to EU Parliament elections). But what if that is not as straightforward as depicted? Looking at a wide array of statistical and survey data on national and European elections, voter turnout is much more nuanced and complicated. Having approached voter turnout-in the context of a research paper- NOT as a monolithic data with only one possible significance, I drew strong correlations between different socioeconomic circumstances of EU countries and I traced trends in voting in EU Parliament elections based on citizens satisfaction with the status quo. Inserting additional parameters such as European citizens satisfaction with the way democracy works in their countries in comparison to how it works on the EU level and the trust that Europeans declared having in public institutions, further strengthened my argument which supports the view that lower voter turnout in European Parliament elections has more to do with citizens complacency due to satisfaction with the status quo rather than lack in trust in the institution; and that citizens satisfaction with the European Parliament is more or less on the same level as with their national parliaments. By challenging the mainstream view that underpins national parliaments legitimacy versus the EP one, I aim to bring into attention the attempt at controlling (with great success I may add) the public discourse on national parliaments and European parliament's legitimacy. I emphasize that assessing how national parliaments and the European one alike can be legitimized and enhanced further should not only be a matter of “inputs” or “outputs” as the current wisdom would have it but also of “thoughputs” as “efficiency, accountability, transparency, and openness to consultation with the people of [..] internal governance processes” as suggested by the work of Prof. Vivien Schimdt . Making sense of European elections voter turnout: What numbers can actually tell? a) Voter turnout as an equivocal factor for democratic legitimacy. Current wisdom holds that voter’s turnout is pivotal for understanding the legitimacy that an institution enjoys. As researchers' work has pointed out repeatedly in the past ( CER, Can national parliaments make the EU more legitimate? Charles Grant, 10 June 2013), the mainstream perspective on the subject is that by comparing the relation between the absolute numbers of voter turnout in national elections versus EP ones in a given country, one can confidently assess which institution enjoys higher trust by the electorate-thus legitimacy. I will attempt to paint a slightly more complicated picture than the sum of the aforementioned assumptions. Voter turnout is affected by a variety of factors, “including socioeconomic influences, the institutional framework and the extent of people’s identification with political parties. ”. (Franziska Fislage, 2015.EU Elections – Where Are the Voters? Study about the low turnout in new EU Member States, Konrad Adenauer Stftung, p.3) When lower voter turnout to EP elections in comparison to national parliament elections is interpreted as dissatisfaction with the work and/or lack of trust towards the EU, one should keep in mind of that constituting an interpretation of the data but not the only possible reason behind such a result. By engaging further with statistical data of the national and European elections results as well as with Eurobaromater and European Social Survey data, I showcased an alternative, and equally convincing, interpretation of the data available. While I do not proclaim a proficiency in processing statistical data, the correlations I will draw will be simple enough in order to provide a basis for more than just anecdotal evidence. b) European Parliament average voter turnout: Does a uniform-European average- result manage to fit/describe all? The first point I will raise is that the voter turnout throughout the EU Member States is not a uniform picture. There are countries in which the voter turnout is as high in EP elections as in national ones. Such countries are Belgium and Luxembourg in which for example voting is strictly mandatory ; in Luxembourg national and European elections take always place on the same day . In contrast, there are countries in which national voter turnout is lower than the EP voter turnout average, like Romania. ( López Pintor, Rafael, Maria Gratschew, and Tim Bittiger. 2004. Voter turnout in Western Europe since 1945: a regional report. Stockholm, Sweden: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, p.20 and 22 respectively). Which are the factors that make voter turnout so variable across the EU Member States? In my quest to understand if there is a trend that can be traced I discounted factors that were the subject of previous research on the matter like particularities based on culture, new versus old EU Member States or new versus old democracies. By focusing on the alternative interpretation of lower voter turnout, i.e. it being a result of citizens satisfaction with the status quo, my research focused on the individual countries that presented the highest and lowest voter turnout in EP elections in comparison to the national ones. The 2013 Eurobarometer results were an eye opener. By focusing on more qualitative data than just absolute numbers and their possible interpretations, in Eurobarometer one can find specific questions such as: Are your country’s interests adequately taken into account by the EU? And definitive answers on the matter. The hypothesis I formulated was the following one: If low turnout can be a sign of citizens satisfaction and complacency with the status quo, then two things would hold true: (1) countries that were relatively less affected by the crisis and (2) felt that their country’s interests were adequately taken into account by the EU, would (3) tend to have lower voter turnout than countries that were adversely affected and felt dissatisfied with how the EU was managing their countries’ interests. And there, on page 78 of the 2013 Eurobarometer report the trend which I hypothesised about, was confirmed. In the group of the 6 countries with the highest level of satisfaction on how the EU handled their national interests (and relatively less affected by the crisis in comparison to other EU countries) was “Luxembourg (66%), Germany (58%), Belgium (58%), Denmark (54%), Malta (53%) and Poland (46% versus 43%)”. With the exception of Luxembourg and Belgium whose particularity I mentioned some paragraphs ago (namely that voting is strictly mandatory and thus they represent the highest voter turnout in the EP elections), Germany, Denmark, Malta and Poland were among the lowest voter turnouts in EP elections in comparison to their national ones . The results of trying to assess if the reverse hypothesis would hold true, namely if countries who were more adversely affected by the crisis and felt dissatisfaction with how their national interests were handled by the EU would present higher voter turnouts, were more mixed. “The predominant view in the other countries is that national interests are not adequately taken into account by the EU, with the highest scores in Cyprus (86%), Greece (85%), Latvia (69%), Italy (67%), the Czech Republic (67%) and Slovenia (65%)”. Greece, Italy and Latvia consistently with my hypothesis have a voter turnout in the EP elections that is equal or quasi equal to their national elections one . Cyprus has one of the higher voter turnout in comparison to the European average in EP elections and close to its national one . It is not the case however for the Czech Republic and Slovenia . I am not sure if there are particularities about these two countries that would explain away their exception to the trend (for example Slovenia's very particular electoral system) or if they simply prove that the hypothesis works only one way: i.e. satisfied citizens will consistently show their complacency by not showing up to vote, while with dissatisfied citizens it can go both ways: have protest votes or express their contempt by abstaining from the election process. c) Legitimacy as Trust in democratic institutions While my hypothesis did not prove to be a 100% foolproof, it provided me with the confidence to try to individuate two things: Firstly, (1) if lower voter turnout in EP elections, as my initial hypothesis- and to a satisfactory extent its affirmation- did not necessarily prove a dissatisfaction with the EP specifically and the EU in general, (2) was there a way to assess if the EP and national parliaments enjoyed more or less the same trust as institutions? More importantly, (3) if the quantitative data of voter turnout data did not have a single valid explanation, (4) would the assessment of qualitative data shed more light in the trust and correlated actual legitimacy national parliaments enjoyed a) per se and b) in comparison to their European counterpart, i.e. the EP? More specifically, by NOT treating voter turnout as the most important factor that showcases legitimacy (the common problem I identified in a great number of popular media that approached the subject of EU legitimacy with some notable exceptions of course), I will attempt to built a holistic approach to legitimacy and challenge this element (the narrative of the significance of lower voter turnout in EP elections) that currently controls the public discourse on the subject. By borrowing concepts and definitions of a more nuanced notion of legitimacy, I will add to its procedural elements, in addition to voter turnout, the trust that the democratic institutions actually enjoy (in our case the trust national parliaments and the EP enjoy). It is not within the scope of my research to analyze what trust in democratic institutions entails. By borrowing Warren’s definition of what trust in institutions entails, for the purpose of my research I used trust as the: “[…] shared knowledge on the principles that constitute an institution, that these principles are accepted, and that the institutions actually work according to these principles." If, therefore, democratic legitimacy is more than just the ability to change the government and the parliamentary composition in elections (thus voter turnout is only one indicator among others of checking the robustness of democratic processes and the associated legitimacy); and trust in democratic institutions is a very strong, qualitative data in assessing said legitimacy, then it follows that “ trust in democratic institutions measured in surveys can be regarded as a proxy for democratic legitimacy” . Why high voter turnout is not necessarily an indicator of democratic legitimacy: How Europeans actually feel about their national democracies, their national parliaments and the European parliament For the purpose of assessing the trust of Europeans in their democratic institutions, I examined the satisfaction levels they expressed in corresponding Eurobarometer measurements for their national democracies as well as the general trust in public institutions they expressed in related European Social Survey measurements. The results, if one completely and unassumingly was to espouse the controlled discourse on the subject of EU legitimacy, are nothing short of amazing. Europeans do not trust their national democracies according to the 2013 Eurobarometer measurement on how satisfied citizens are with how democracy works in their countries. It is significant to note that such a result is preceding the 2014 European Parliament elections. 50% of the respondents, for the first time since 2004 declared their overall dissatisfaction with their national democracies(while 48% (-1) are satisfied and 2% (unchanged) expressed no opinion) . Even more interesting are the results of Europeans’ trust of how European democracy works. 46% of Europeans (+1 percentage point since autumn 2012) are dissatisfied with the way in which democracy works in the EU, while 43% (-1) are satisfied and 11% (unchanged) expressed no opinion . One, if the narrative on what a lower voter turnout during EP elections was to be believed, would expect significantly higher levels of dissatisfactions with the way European democracy works; something which is actually not the case as the data indicate. In the same Eurobarometer survey the respondents are asked to evaluate their trust in their national parliaments. The results are even more disappointing if one is to understand their correlation with the lack of democratic legitimacy they present for the aforementioned institutions. An amazing 68% plus 2 tends not to trust their national parliaments in comparison to 28% minus 2 that tends to trust them . Not being able to find corresponding results of Europeans trust in the European Parliament in the 2013 Eurobarometer survey, I consulted the aggregated data of a 2003 European Social Survey on trust in Public Institutions of the paper, Low Electoral Turnout: An Indication of a Legitimacy Deficit? by Kimmo Grönlund and Maija Setälä, presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Uppsala, Workshop 9 “Low turnout – does it matter?” As the paper characteristically presents in its findings, the mean trust in the institutions in the whole measured area was 4.7 for national parliaments and 4.7 for the European Parliament, which means that “national parliaments and the European Parliament are trusted to the same extent. ” Imagine that! National parliaments involvement: should we increase it per se or should we increase its meaningfulness? “National parliaments simply have to be involved to a much greater extent … prior to decisions being made”. This would prevent a repeat of the “ridiculous situation” in recent years, “where EU leaders agree to something during a panic-stricken weekend and then they spend months, or even years … to try to figure out what they actually agreed, because their national parliaments have uncomfortable questions” Mats Persson, Director, Open Europe Truer words, unfortunately, have not been uttered on the subject of panic stricken weekends. However, there is a confusion on the what the parliamentary functions are constituted of, unwittingly reducing them to the legislative or policy making aspect of political life. Formalizing mandating rights in such a way in many ways is going against the overall logic of what parliamentary life consists. Going back to the original point I made during the introduction about legitimacy not being a binary of inputs and outputs but also consisting of thoughputs, I suggest that public deliberation and holding the government publicly account are important elements of legitimacy processes and should be part of the scrutiny and monitoring processes national parliaments are already supposed to manifest as part of their mandates. If European governments and their ministers were held accountable on manners such as efficiency, transparency and openness to consultation with the electorate about their practices and the public discourse on EU legitimacy was not exhausted to voter turnout percentages. The real challenge “is not the access to the EU information, but rather the processing its ever increasing amount ” and it is this information that national parliaments should help their citizens access and understand. Citizens have to be able to understand the reasons behind decisions taken otherwise they will have no basis on which to judge if they agree with them or not. If we understand delegation’s renewal to be based on citizens satisfaction with the decisions they have to live with, is it a lot to ask for them to understand why their delegates agreed to certain decisions in the first place, having their electorate’s best supposedly in mind? Conclusion Mr Herman De Croo, Member of the House of Representatives of Belgium, commented on the relative power of institutions and how this could be measured. Whilst this was difficult, the number of lobbyists surrounding the EP indicated that there was a lot of power there. He remarked that, for National Parliaments, there was an element of hypocrisy in claiming to have power and control, even when it may not be strictly true, in order to encourage citizens to vote in national elections. Coming full circle, I argue that my research's findings made a strong case for finding the current public discourse on the EU deficit as controlled . More importantly the paper managed to significantly challenge the perception that national parliaments as more legitimate, in the mainstream sense of voter turnout, in comparison to the European Parliament. Such an understanding is of pivotal importance: if EP and national parliaments acceptance is more or less on the same levels, then cui bono from the perception that national parliaments enjoy greater acceptance, i.e. legitimacy. As the opening quotation of the conclusion remarks if National Parliaments claim to have power and control, EVEN when it may not be strictly true, in order to encourage citizens to vote in national elections (and therefore by feeding even more to the illusion of legitimacy due to high voter turnouts)…then what more is left to be said that national parliaments are not bringing more legitimacy to the EU project (since they have no more than the EU already enjoys) but that they are actually, on the sidelines, are manufacturing legitimacy for themselves? If such is the case, and it certainly begs greater investigation on the matter, Europeans currently are missing the proverbial forest for the tree: it is of no importance if their views are represented on the EU level, if their views-or at least a majority of them- is de facto not taken into account by their national parliaments. It matters not if specific MPs mandates are not renewed if what citizens experience in their national life is a rotational circle of disregard of their needs and their wishes. As Tabellini remarks “there is disagreement over how to reform and procrastination is tempting” but that not needs to be the case regarding voter turnout and turnout gap. Perhaps what truly needs to be challenged and change is what those things actually represent.

Votes: 11

My idea for increasing voter turn-out in general - and especially young voters - would be to give it a bit of an event context. While the voting itself obviously has to remain serious and formal, we could create communal events around the time of the votes: - Town hall meetings with free food and after-party to get information about the various issues and parties - Voting day BBQ parties run by volunteers to celebrate participation - Voting trips that include getting a free EU flag t-shirt - Competition for best voting days event ideas in advance to get more people involved in both coming up with helpful event ideas and actually running them as well

Votes: 16

Dear somebody, My name is Albin J.M. Hillberg and I'm a Swedish-born European who works as a youth representative to the Union of the Baltic Cities and as a Board Member in the Youth Council of Gävle. In my opinion we can only increase voter turnout by highlighting the important issues the European Union faces today, and how the different parties would solve them. As they do in the National Elections. Another way would be to enable for the European Citizens to vote through E-voting as an alternative for those who are on traveling foot, as many europeans are due to the free movement between states.

Votes: 12

The most pressing problems from my point of view are the following: 1) The lack of knowledge and understanding of the EU, and of political structures in general - this problem is caused by two things: lack of interest (which is hard to affect) and lack of education and easily available knowledge. I think EU has recently been doing a good job at spreading knowledge about its structures with videos etc. But EU should try to make such informative videos even more interesting, maybe even fund cartoons for smaller children to teach about the EU. Then spread knowledge on as many platforms as possible. From Facebook to twitter to tumblr to reddit to myspace to google etc... 2) ease of access to electoral information - in National Elections in some countries it is hard to get information on the policies of candidates or their parties. In EU elections it is hard to find the Euro parliament party of candidates. There should be more platforms for debates. Not just the tv debates but also onlin interviews and debates. Platforms where we can easily see he national and euro party of each candidate and what are the policies of each. The backgrounds of each candidate should also be available. Elections are essentially an elaborate job interviews so we ahould be able to review who are our best candidates... 3) ease of voting - we need a secure digital voting system accross The EU and we must protect it from hacking. This will make voting very easy.

Votes: 20

First thing first, a lot of people from the young generation dont't know anything about politics. I'm from Romania and we know very well what means to let your future in the hands of older generation. I know that the fault is ours, but once I don't know anything about the politics, my politicians aren't so transparent, the public debates aren't open for everybody, just for ones in the capital and the young ones aren't listen because of their age, as a part form the new generation, I think that is understandable why I prefer not going to vote. I can do mistakes, I can vote for a criminal if I don't kave knowledge about what's going on up there, but my interest is much lower if I know that my opinion isn't important for the politicians because I'm young. Ok, my country has a lot of problems but I don't think this issue with the young generation is just here. I think the main reasons why the new generation preffers to stay away from politics is the fact that they don't know anything about politics (because is boring and it's avoided even though is important), because if we vote someone we don't have a insurance that what they, the politicians, promissed is going to be make and MAINLY beacuse we usually aren't listen. Maybe the second one can't be resolved, but the first amd the third one can. We have to raise the awareness about politics, the fact that even though is boring for the young ones, everyone has to be a little interested because the future of the country is in our hands, but even if we are interested enough, we have to be listen. We live in a country, in a society and if we want better conditions and a better way of living, we need someone to listen our wishes amd make them real. If we want something, we have to be listen. And after that we have to do something, and the way that makes our voices listen is the vote. Voting for the one that represents your ideas, your ideals means that you have a big chance to make them possible, to make them real. I would love to know what is going on in our political system, I would love to see an online post with "vote for x" and to see below what that persons wants to do for my country, for my future, I would love to see a public debate and my opinion to be heard, I would love to see what's going on in an inside debating and to be hear if I'm not ok with what they want to do, I would love to be listen, but I can't and I think all of the above can be done in the real and online world. I think a lesson about politics, much more public debates and a place where you can say your wishes and proposals will help (and maybe online voting because is much more accessible). I hope one day I will see young people debating about who should be elected or seeing them on an online plathform where their wishes and hopes can be listen and try to be realised. I hope...and I wish the young ones will be listen and their hopes will become real.

Votes: 17

The major issue with young people not showing up to vote is that they don’t know how to, where to go, or what they are choosing from. It requires an effort to make a decision that will have an impact as important as an election, and when people are not sure they don’t vote. A way to improve this issue would be through ad hoc social media campaigns through Facebook advertising, Twitter, and instagram stories adverts redirecting to a website showing parties manifestos, voting polls - even short videos showing how the parliament, the commission, and the European institutions work. Knowing what they are voting for, who they are voting for, what impact their vote is going to have, what they need to go to vote (documents, ID?) and where to vote, will probably improve the turn out. There is not enough media discussion in member states on European elections, so there is little exposure and unless people are proactive citizens they hardly can understand where to vote, how and why (that said, my first vote was casted in the last EU election but I would not have voted if it hadn’t been for my mom - no idea what I was doing, I had just turned 18!). Since there is little media coverage, and it is the youth turnout that it is targeted, then use those media’s that that social group uses EVERY DAY. Between one instagram story and another they get a reminder that there is an election coming up with an easily accessible link to further information. Way to go.

Votes: 18

Well, who are the people running for the EU Parliament within the country members? I don't know about other regions; however, in Romania there are the same unscrupulous, populists, shady and with long history of being above and on top of the national law. Moreover, the process of selecting the EP candidates it a non-transparent procedure, within the political parties. Don't need to remind you that we have selected George Becali as EP in 2012, until it's official conviction in 2013. The guy is one of the wealthiest man in Romania, as well as one of the poorest educated ones, please do all a favor and check him out on Google if you don't know him yet. Therefore, how do we expect youngsters who are absent from the national (and local) elections to be eager to participate in the EU Parliamentarian elections, when we see the same faces, coming from the same dirty, shady political 'gangs'? Yes, the lack of EU institutions and their effect on each life it's also a issue, which I see that the EU is tackling through multimedia and digital marketing, and hats off to that! But this is coming as a counteroffensive to the nationalism and fake 'patriotic' growing state of mine among EU citizens. So, yes I encourage active, participatory democracy among youngsters and I always promote it within my network, but general population's (and especially among youngsters) confidence in political class is all time law...

Votes: 18

Hey, thanks a lot for asking. In my opinion low youth turnouts are due to a lack of knowledge what Europe is at core. I do not want to generalise but I think that I can speak for a fair share of my generation when I say: "We love Europe and couldn't live without it." The problem is not that we are not aware what Europe is doing for us. I would rather say that we do not see the actual work that stands behind our privileges. We might be the generation Easyjet, we grew up with a single currency and we are used to pass borders without having to prove our identity. I think that we need to be given the feeling that all this is not self-explanatory. Many parents might not talk about it. So I would love if school had taught me how difficult the European Unification process. Additionally, I have to admit that low turnouts are also related to the candidates we can elect. Especially for European parliamentary elections we are used to the same old faces who will likely obtain their 6th mandate in Brussels. To make Europe more attractive to the youth- Let youth govern it! At least a share. I think that every candidate should question himself if he is really adding value by staying in Brussels for his 20th year in row. We need some fresh air. I hate to say it, but most of us spent the past 10 years of their youth growing up with new forms of media and another information culture. We read less long newspapers, our attention-span is shorter than ever before and our relationships are much more informal. If politics adapted to that by giving some of us the opportunity to participate (not just by voting) it would help a lot. From my internship at the European Parliament I remember committee meetings like AFET. I think that all young politicians should also organise themselves in a committee that only deals with the future of the European Union and the young citizens. Show us that you care! I thank you a lot and wish all the best. I'll go vote!

Votes: 20