Young people don’t vote. Or, at least, the vast majority of them seem to be allergic to the ballot box. For example, turnout amongst young voters (18-24) in the 2014 European elections was a scant 28%. Contrast that with turnout among people aged 55+, over half of whom (51%) cast their ballots in 2014, and it’s clear that youth participation in European elections is not great.

No, the problem is not just with EU elections. Youth turnout in national elections can also be appallingly low. There are exceptions, of course, and in some countries, such as France and Poland, young people are just as likely (or even more likely) than older voters to participate. In general, however, young people seem less likely to vote than any other group of citizens. Why is that? And how can we encourage better youth participation in politics? 

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from David, arguing that it was absolutely critical that young people get more involved in European politics: Young people are consistently shown as the most pro-European – without their involvement in Europe’s present, the EU has no future… [Yet] for young people, sadly EU politics seems distant and there is an unclear link with their daily lives.”

How would YOU get more young people involved in politics? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!

Radical Left
Fabio de Masi (Radical Left), Member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs:

de masi

I think that to involve young people in politics they first of all must have a say. And we can see that during the [July 2015] Greek referendum there was a high turnout from young voters. But if basically EU politics is telling young people ‘We don’t care about your future. We don’t care about your opinion’, as they did with the Greek referendum, then people will say: “Why should I even go to vote?”

So, the basic prinicple to involve young people is they must feel they have control of their future. And if the EU institutions take away the control of their future, and take away their very future, people will not turn up to vote because they feel it’s useless.

Terry Reintke (Group of the Greens), Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs:

terry-reintkeI think one of the things that engaged me in politics from the start was to see a clear alternative. And one of the things that European politics has so far been lacking is these alternatives and faultlines, not along national borders but rather in terms of politics, beliefs, and values. So, voters need to really see a difference between what social democrats, conservatives, green, or liberals are doing in the European Parliament.

I think one of the biggest challenges for us as politicians is to create these kind of arenas and have these controversial debates, but at the same time to have a media that is covering this. And just to give one example where I believe German media has recently failed to create this space was by not broadcasting the State of the Union speech by [European Commission President] Jean-Claude Juncker. Regardless of whether I agree or not with the speech politically, not putting it on mainstream media was a problematic decision. So, I believe the media has a very important part to play here.

Liberal Democrats
Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE), Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the ALDE Group (NOTE: We contacted ALDE for comment but they did not reply in time for publication. The below is from a video interview recorded by Debating Europe ahead of the European Parliament elections in May 2014):

Centre Right
Roberta Metsola (EPP), Vice-Chair of the Committee on Petitions:

Timothy Kirkhope (ECR), Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs:


Laura Ferrara (EFD), Member of the European Parliament:

ferraraThe answer is to give to each citizen the effective power to participate in the decision-making process, applying the principle of direct democracy through the means offered by the Internet and the other Information Technologies. The Movimento 5 Stelle (5 Stars Movement), to which I belong, is strongly committed to applying the principles of E-Democracy, and the results are clear as day: we are, in Italy, the youngest political movement ever, and we are also the youngest delegation both in the National and in the European Parliament.

Curious to know more about youth participation in European democracy? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Adam Scotti
With the support of:


Who do YOU agree with on this issue?


Results for this issue

See the overall results

49 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Enric Mestres Girbal

    To vote who ?…corrupt politics? heartless capitalists? stupid leaders?… The majority of young people es allergic to the EU and its policies.

  2. avatar
    Matej Zaggy Zagorc

    Then at least take into consideration what young people- the future of any country and the world, no less, have to say. Not just milk them (us) for votes and taxes.

  3. avatar
    Ángel Caído

    We are not stupid. We believe that a party doesn’t represent all of our ideas because it’s completely impossible. We cannot be 100% agree with all of the ideas from a Party. In a real democracy, Parties talk between them and they get solutions between everybody. But it happens in any country? Not! Politicians just look their interests, they try to divide society and that’s really sad but it’s the reality. We need to change the model or better, politicians should change their attitudes. In electoral debates and campaigns they are only fighting between them? Where is the democratic feeling? The democratic behaviour?

    Saying that I defend to vote because our ancients fought for it! But we need some big changes in attitudes and try to create a real democratic behaviour between those how represent us! Thanks!

  4. avatar
    Angelica Gheorghe

    Unfortunately, young people do not seem to be prepaired to lead, some of them do not know the meaning of responsability…..

    • avatar

      useless comment founded on zero evidence. it may be that young people are disillusioned by the dishonesty of current politicians and the confusing jargon they use that make the subject particularly inaccessible.

  5. avatar
    Sendi Martina

    The best way would be for politicians to be sincere, but that would never happen. Young people do not only think that their opinion or vote is insignificant, but they also mistrust the political class, and see them as elitists…

  6. avatar
    Jose Quintans

    The people’s political mind has evolved much more than the political system, so it is demoralizing to either think or participate in politics.

    Therefore political system must be reformed first, and the people must be involved in the new development, not just to vote for the acceptance of the new models, cause that would be a sign of ‘no evolution’ at all.

  7. avatar
    Gerry Mavrie-Yanaki

    The question is – What do young people want – , because from what I can see through the research done via my upstart political Movement in Greece – ANAYENISI ( the Renaissance)- young people aren’t much interested when they hear the issues effecting everyone, when they are the victims of the failure of the current political party system – is it indifference, is it ideological inclination , is it due to being self-centred – the problems facing everyone in Greece are above ideology- is it blind political allegiance???? Donations are needed for ANYENISI to become a political party and win the next elections to form Government to build a new Greece and a new EU –

  8. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Young people, and many adults who can think, do not believe in politicians or their politics. No wonder they do not vote. It is not good, but to go and vote for people who never comply with their campaign promises is demoralizing and disgusting at best.
    Our schools do not teach anything about the power of the ballot box either.

  9. avatar

    Young people, and many adults who can think, do not believe in politicians or their politics. No wonder they do not vote. It is not good, but to go and vote for people who never comply with their campaign promises is demoralizing and disgusting at best.
    Our schools do not teach anything about the power of the ballot box either. I guess because the “system” does not want them to know the power the ballot box can carry.

  10. avatar
    Goran Andov

    Because most of the the young are aware and don’t let their vote be bought..

  11. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    I believe I know the answer . Young people don’t know what is all about and they don’t trust politicians . It is very tragic how big percentage young people don’t trust the EU . EU is not working on to inform EU citizens about EU politics . EU should have a media house similar to the BBC News . Lobbying , corruption , media and religious organisations destroy trust in the EU institutions . EU should make all lobbying illegal . EU should have police force and fight corruption in all EU members states . EU should work for EU citizens and not for banks , big business Arabs .

  12. avatar
    Miguel Palma

    You shouldn’t be worried if young people vote, at the moment its better for them to not even be involved, it wouldn’t e nice for the voting age to be lowered for the kids would start to be dragged by other manipulating their points of view, giving them worries that in their age they have no necessity for.

  13. avatar
    Maggie Winiarczyk

    Create political incubators where young people can voice their opinions, participate in political debates, actively take part in political events, summits etc. Allow them to get involved! Politics is far too inaccessible for a lot of young people.

  14. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    Why would you & who drives YOU?

    Would all these “senior politicians” first explain the benefit a nation would gain by lobbying to “involve” or swell the ranks of unproductive politicians, increase political shrewdness and divert attention away of their inability to solve the chaos they created?

    One need to reduce the governing class substantially (75%), introduce electronic direct democracy, educate, guide and provide real jobs.

  15. avatar
    Petr Horak

    To vote is important, mainly to EP as it is most important election at hand.

  16. avatar
    Dagmar Ueberfeld-Lang

    The Liberals in Canada were able to drum up young people in very large numbers this time around but they only stick around when politicians keep or regain their trust. This starts with honesty, truthfulness, openness, transparency, enabling the young, letting of party politicking, backroom arrangements etc. All the dirty party play parties have been known for need to go. If parties don’t learn that lesson, a whole generation of young voters will be lost maybe forever.

  17. avatar
    Jeremy Bornstein

    In the European Parliament I’d say the parties in the ENF grouping,young people are poor and face intense competition from migrants as well as more resource scarcity. Feminism and equalism has lead to a destruction of traditional values which in turn lead to more psychological distress and family disfunction. The EU is killing Europe and European society. We need a Europe of nations and freedom. Young people are a critically important base for the likes of Le Penn and Strache for this very reason.

  18. avatar

    Unfortunately all the videos posted for the different parties are actually the same video of Guy Verhofstadt. I there didn’t take part in the survey.

  19. avatar
    Ibn Rushd

    European politics are dominated by multinationals, buying the politicians and lobbying them to improve policies that allow them to dislocate industry and have low custom duties to import their goods. Meanwhile the Europeans get unemployment. But remember, empty bellies are not good advisers.

  20. avatar
    Rozalija Baricevic

    To involve them in EU projects on real issues. I remember when my students took part in a very interesting competition “Do You Speak European? “. As the winners at national level, we came to Brussels and, by the opinion of all other teams, teachers, were the best. But the commission announced that the Belgium team of 5 young Morrocanns were better. My students were told to accept that decision because young men were delinquents and that award would be a motivation for them to try to become better citizens of Belgium. The next competition should be held in the winning country, Croatia. My students were disappointed but had to accept that decision. So, don’t play games with young people and you will get them.

  21. avatar
    Vlasta Peric


  22. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    Education : EU should remove religion from all schools and teach young people how to develop democracy , peace and justice. EU should have big media house similar to BBC . EU should have police force and fight corruption and crime . People should trust the EU again. You should teach young people like this : Religion Harms Society | Oxford Union :

    Church is selling “the truth” that is impossible :

    God’s justice is impossible to have today :

  23. avatar
    Annika K

    Make young people understand that their vote is significant and that voting can lead to a change which was not really seen recently

  24. avatar
    Leonard Prifti

    The real problem for young people is how to find a job not how to involve in politic, give them more chances to live open more places of work

  25. avatar
    Andrej Němec

    By changing the scope and programming of national televisions, broadcasting more international news in different languages and reporting on happenings in different parts of the World and of Europe in particular.
    By promoting the debate at school and by exchange programmes with students coming from other EU Member States.
    By explaining the importance of getting involved in the administration of the States.

  26. avatar

    I think the key is how we are taught politics. If we weren’t constantly fed the stereotype that politics is not something we would find interesting but instead were told what it actually meant and consisted of and then made an opinion of it ourselves instead of making preconceived ones.
    And if they got taught what being in a democracy means and that they should stand up for what they believe is wrong and make change themselves, then they may want to be more interested. Because the passion and the opinions are there but I think many young people feel they don’t have an appropriate platform from which to project their views and opinions and therefore feel they are ignored and insignificant.

  27. avatar
    Carla Houston

    In my opinion, young people take no interest in the political debate as they have less knowledge about politics and they think politics is difficult to understand or they want real change. without the proper knowledge about the issues, making them to less participate in the debate. If we present them the pros and cons of the various side of the political issue, then they will definitely interested in participating in the politics. For this, the debating platform like presents the political issue in the simplest note style article.) is much needed.

  28. avatar

    Young people need a voice , but not in brussels and certainly not until we have reached a point where we can either scrap the whole ever closer union idea or hold democratic referendums to see and hear what the people have to say.
    Saying you want young people in politics is as far as im concerned a great idea but again giving false hope to a lot of very bright people and furthermore using this to push your ever closer union agenda just isnt right. I see as well as many others through the usual bag of eu tricks.
    Hold in/out referendums and if you win build your empire, but do so in a decent and fair manner and not under false pretenses and certainly not like this.

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