Young people voted. They made their voices heard. In the 2019 European Parliament elections, the jump in turnout was driven by young voters; the largest increases in participation came from the under 25 and 25-39 age groups. So, will Europe listen?

The EU has managed to engage young voters, but can it keep them engaged? If young people feel ignored or neglected by policymakers, they may feel their vote was wasted. Will European politicians finally prioritise young people and the issues they care about?

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Macro arguing that young people do care about politics, but they are disheartened by the fact they are constantly ignored by politicians. Is he right?

To get a response, we asked Damian Boeselager, who was recently elected to the European Parliament with the pan-European party Volt Europa. What would he say to Macro?

For another perspective, we also asked Bobby Duffy, Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London. How would he respond?

There is something called the democratic deficit which effectively means because young people vote less in elections in most countries they are worth less to politicians, in terms of: you’ve got a choice of policies and the focus is on older groups, particularly a baby boomer generation who are large demographically already so there is a lot of baby boomers and they vote a lot. You’ve got a younger group who are fewer in number and also vote less and are going to be less reflected in the priorities. That’s the nature of politics.

I think one of the other big themes of my forthcoming book on generational difference is that this is reflected in economics as well. There is very strong evidence that young people, particularly the millennials and gen z cohorts that came through during and post the 2008 recession, were hit economically much harder than other groups. Partly just because they were starting out in their careers so they are very unlucky in that. So, they haven’t had enough support. The interesting thing, in some ways, is why are young people of this particular cohort not more angry and not more active in pushing their own agenda? And I think there is something in this that the system in some ways protects itself because young people have grown up with less help in the past couple of decades, with less support, less money spent by governments on things that support them. Quite often, not in all countries, but quite often.

Which means, actually, they take a lot more personal responsibility than looking to government and politicians to sort things out for them. They are arguably blaming politics and the government less than they should be because they feel a personal responsibility for how they get on themselves. A long trend in growing individualism, where we see ourselves more as individuals, more picking and choosing, means in that in some ways we hold ourselves responsible for whether we succeed or fail. When, actually, quite a lot of the time, it is much more the economic and political context that determines whether we are going to succeed or fail…

Do politicians listen to young people? Or are millennials outnumbered (and out-voted) by older generations, meaning politicians have fewer incentives to address the issues they care about? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (cc) Flickr – European Parliament


15 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Marijus

    Of course they listen, but they don’t care. Same as you you would listen to your drunk grandpa talkink..

  2. avatar
    Hugo

    Do you like to listen to kids just shouting “you are not caring for my future”? When you ask for solutions and they say “the politics must take care of the future” and don’t provide real solutions, do you need to hear more? Just don’t really matter. If they suggest solutions we can try them.

    • avatar
      Gerhard

      Disproved by Fridays for Future.
      They made a plan together with climate scientists and still were ignored.
      Your post is nothing more than a lazy excuse.

  3. avatar
    Florin

    Well… More than any others, politicians go by the “you don’t tell me, kiddo!” rule…

  4. avatar
    HJo

    The real problem is that one tends to overestimates the ability of politicians to change somethings. Do they listen, I’m pretty sure. Everything else is polemic. Do they understand… sometimes yes, sometimes no. Can they do something about it, well that’s very difficult. They don’t have the power. And for sure not the power to fix a short term problem. So young people, old people, black people, white people, all tell the tale of politicians don’t listen to them.

  5. avatar
    Любомир

    Should they listen to young people? Should society? Young people are inexperienced and know very little of the world. They are the ones who should listen and learn.

  6. avatar
    Joris

    Listen ok, but they don’t have to demand.. We have elections for that.

  7. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    First of all how young? 16 for example? And, why should they listen? They listen to no particular group unless it is to do with serious funding on their part. The agenda is set. Little respect is paid to any part of society. The purpose of minimalist exposure is in order to keep the mass import of tax payers money entering their coffers. That means hiding the real intention of political objectives and the reason behind the moves toward less accountability via elections. It is well established should people have a vote and know what they are truly voting for, it would not pass into law, ever. Think about it. How much of what has become our way of life would you have voted for, had you known prior to election what was planned for us to absorb into society?

  8. avatar
    Dionis

    They dont need to. Young/inexperienced people already think what politicians want them to. :P

  9. avatar
    Derek

    Do politicians listen to anyone?

  10. avatar
    Juliette

    Do politicians care to listen to people in general??

  11. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    You policymakers & experts, please tell us!

    “The EU has managed to engage young voters”. “So, (damn it) will Europe listen?”

    Is that an “EU directive” to national governments- like: So guys, you better listen- or!

    An EU opportunistic political truth, wishful thinking or the one and only truth?

    In 2014 it was still different:
    https://euobserver.com/eu-election/144950

    What happened? Free Euro rail pass, Erasmus & other “youth incentives” etc? Have “Generation Z” & “Millennial’s” suddenly matured or been fully captured or convinced by EU political graft or craft?

    The EU parliament remains “outmaneuvered” by the elite decision makers- why? https://euobserver.com/news/145345

    Too many unknowns & unanswerable ones!

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