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 answers will be!

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To me, the most essential thing to do is to ensure all schools provide complete, thorough and unbiased political education. If more was done to make sure young people were informed and engaged from an early age, far more would vote in all elections.

Votes: 62

I believe that the sure way to attract young people to vote is to: 1. Create a vibrant, lively and energetic campaign which appeals to the younger generation and discard the old, boring and mundane campaign techniques. This way you will attract their attention and they will listen to the information provided and be more likely to vote. 2. Put forward how important the youth vote is and make them feel needed and as though their vote will be the deciding vote. Highlight the youth's need to feel important. 3. Ensure that more information about the elections and the European Parliament as a whole is put forward. Our youth feel overlooked and as though their voices are not heard or even important. So, if there is an emphasis upon the fact that their voices are important along with a modern vibrance to election campaigns, the youth will come forward.

Votes: 46

Young people turnout greatly for election when the candidate they want to vote for is young friendly and they have confidence in him or her. Also when they are motivated,encouraged and promised a better livelihood and good jobs. We can close the gap when young people are educated and made to understand that every single votes counts so they can't support a candidate and not vote for that candidate. When they do not vote, it may affect a candidate who has great vision for young people. They should also be educated on how to vote and where to vote. They shouldn't been stressed out when going to vote. in my country Ghana, most young people don't turnout to vote because they have lost trust in most of the leaders. They promise their good living conditions and jobs but they fail them leaving most young people unemployed. The young should be given the opportunity to know each candidate well, and be able to convince people to vote for them because they have won their trust and they believe they can deliver. I think the turn up of young people is great when the candidate is a youth and has vision for the youth.

Votes: 53

For example, in my country Romania, since Communism fell in 1989. In this 28 years, the youths were 88% far from getting involved or having an opinion vis-à-vis the rulers or future leaders of the country. The elderly or the past 40+ people always voted. Well, since the last election people have been dissatisfied with some legislative changes. Young people, but all young people, have been mobilized by certain movements (also part of the US) to go out and fight against those who have been involved in these changes. But, I do not think it's okay what's going on. Why do they say this: Because most of them do not know why they're out in the street, or they're out because that's how the neighbor goes out. I believe that for the upcoming elections, in order to achieve a healthy and civic society in a sustainable way, we need to educate. Perhaps in other countries children are taught little about what it means to vote and many other parliamentary details, as when they grow up to know what they are facing. But often the information learned at kindergarten or primary school is just up to date with those when the child becomes adult. And that's because of the century of speed and global digitization. I propose that young people who have already obtained the right to vote should benefit free of charge from the state of which they are part of a short but intensive learning process about: what are the political parties in their country, details about them, who are the people who want to represent them. What concrete proposals and possibilities for implementation can take after going out of government, and so on. Like when a young man decides to vote to be prepared and involved in these processes. This eliminates the appearance that only the elderly go to vote. Well they say they are more experienced and I say I know that I have lived, etc. Thank you

Votes: 71

To reduce the turnout gap, make the voting system more accessible to anyone eligible to vote. This facilitates the voting process overall and helps to increase voter turnout.

Votes: 82

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: 96

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: 115

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: 92

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
Vote up!

Votes: 123

You voted ‘up’

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: 122

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