Young people don’t vote. Traditionally, young Europeans are the least likely to bother to vote of any age cohort in national elections. In the 2014 European Parliament elections, only 28% of voters aged 18-24 voted, compared to 51% of those aged over 55.

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 elections. In general, though, young people are typically less likely to vote. 

There are signs that youth participation is increasing. 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. Nevertheless, despite recording the biggest uptick, young people still had the lowest turnout among all age groups in the 2019 EU elections.

What do our readers think? We had a comment come in from Sendi, who argues that young people don’t vote not just because they “think that their opinion or vote is insignificant”, but they also “mistrust the political class, and see them as elitists”. Is that true?

To get a response, we spoke to Jaume Duch Guillot, Director-General for Communication at the European Parliament. What would he say to Sendi? Do young people mistrust the political class?

For another perspective, we put the same comment to Maria Freitas, Senior Policy Advisor at the Foundation for Progressive European Studies (FEPS).

Maria Freitas points Sendi to a project which FEPS carried out called the Millennial Dialogue.

Next up, we had a comment come in from Alain, who worries that the demographic trend is against young people in Europe:

Image of a citizenThe EU needs to strengthen alternative forms of political engagement. Young people will be forever be out-voted by an ageing population at the ballot box, so there need to be alternative channels for young people to participate, including direct democracy tools.

What would Jaume Duch Guillot say? Should the EU strengthen alternative forms of political engagement?

Finally, how would Maria Freitas respond?

Why don’t young people vote? Do young Europeans participate in politics in different ways? 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 / WikiMedia – Phil Roeder
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44 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    They can fight in wars but not vote!!!

    • avatar

      what wars? Military draft is over

  2. avatar

    I think that change is coming! Young people are fed up with working for very low salaries despite their high education and with the climate crisis endangering their future, to name just a few things… they’re taking to the streets and im sure also to the polling stations soon!

  3. avatar

    Most young people have no idea how the political system works. The education systems in Europe have a severe deficit in teaching their young citizens about their responsibilities. Everyone is screaming about rights, but in a democracy civic rights go hand in hand with civic responsibilites.

    • avatar

      tell them that whilst they are sent to fight

    • avatar

      the problem with what you are saying, is that you imply that older People do know how the political system works. I don’t know how it is in your country, but the opinions held by some People in Belgium about the last elections seems to contradict this.

    • avatar
      gino vanloy

      Democracy only works when you have people whit the same common sence and noses in the same direction, if politics screw up, democracy should be the thing to neutralise the politicians. Now al sorts of people vote in a democracy, and those results turn out to come to the same frozen system that can do or decide what it wants, the voters from to different directions and goals, neutralise democracy and give:” carte blanche ” to the bad, the worse and the ugly! Democracy is no longer enough to preserve the good of all nations, it becomes harmfull in this abusive form, sorry it has aleady become i should say! It is gona get a lot worse with more and more immigrants!

  4. avatar

    Well, I would even argue for a 20 year voting age. It seems that young thought is becoming more extreme from a generation to another. No need to bring even more uninformed misguided opinions at the voting booths.

    • avatar

      Do you honestly think being older makes you more informed? Because it’s not really the young people who are voting while being misguided and uninformed.
      In the contrary, young people use the Internet to be educated, and know that not everything they see on the television is necessarily true.

    • avatar

      and they get dooped, because they’re completely inexperienced and think that Internet can tell them everything.

    • avatar

      As if the older generations don’t think they know everything.

    • avatar

      The at least have some life experience to back it all up.

  5. avatar

    Becuase their not educated to vote

  6. avatar

    because the belgian government doesn’t give a fuck. Losers become winners, winners become losers

  7. avatar

    All politicians are idiots ! Why do we have to vote ?

  8. avatar

    I they are mature enough to vote, then they are mature enough to be fully responsible for their actions and be treated as adult in criminal procedures.
    A person is either a fully responsible adult or not.

  9. avatar

    Because they don’t have to fight for the basic things of life. Everything is guaranteed by parents and grand parents.

    • avatar

      But what if they turn out to dislike the way grandparents and parents do things?

  10. avatar

    the left brainwashed generation

    • avatar

      Exactly. Ruining everything.

  11. avatar

    They Don t because politicians are corrupted Don t care about général interests… Don t listen at opponents and serve the same liberal free trade policy

  12. avatar

    They are formatted to be zombies

  13. avatar

    Sortons de l’UE, de l’euro, de l’OTAN !

  14. avatar
    gino vanloy

    The human brain is only full grown at the age of 24, youth is easily manipulated, that is why the EU wants them to vote!!!, They have less life experience and while it is already difficult for grown ups to develop a balanced vieuw of life double sided political ideology and the betrail ansd lies of politicians, Youth would be voting against their own benefits in their later life. influances of puberty are not finisched strings of thoughts, but the opposit in many times of what they become later on! There is need of time to develop a more clear human! So no voting for youngsters is good for them selves and bad for manipulating and abusing politicians! How dirty poltics are and even want the vote of the young to secure their nicely wrapped packet of greed!

  15. avatar

    We don’t vote because we don’t have the opportunity to vote against Europe. Give us the chance to vote for the end of this fucking Europe and evrybody will vote.

  16. avatar

    Voting has, or maybe always has been, turned into a waste of time. You can get way more with protest and hard activism. If a government does something wrong, you can vote, or disrupt the logistic finction of many cities at once.

  17. avatar

    Als ze allemaal als anuna zijn lopen ze binnenkort allemaal rond met een boerka.

  18. avatar

    laat ze eerst bewijzen dat ze een jaar alles zelf kunnen doen van huishuur tot levensmiddelen ! en laat ze dan gaan stemmen !! eens zien voor wie ze dan gaan kiezen

  19. avatar

    Because they have had enough?

  20. avatar

    My point is that young people are still in school. For older people – it would be up to them to learn.

  21. avatar

    Life experience issues, maybe?

  22. avatar

    young people move quickly, but old people know the way !

  23. avatar

    That also means you can go get a job in 7 months, enjoy taxes and all your other bills

  24. avatar

    young people are not responsible enough yet

  25. avatar

    It’s a tragedy most people are able to vote

  26. avatar

    Because don’t like politicians greed and lack of useful actions

  27. avatar

    Probably they don’t see alternative to the status quo or they don’t see a candidate that shares their values.

  28. avatar

    Because they are young, ignorant and easily manipulated therefore they should not be encouraged to do so

  29. avatar

    I, too, find it really weird how young people do not feel represented by old farts who do old fart politics.

  30. avatar

    Because they’ve been disenfranchised by the lack of democracy and the excess of corruption.

  31. avatar

    Because they don’t have the life experience necessary to understand the large effects of policies and political parties…
    It’s easy to win the votes of the young that believe everything is easy and effortless.

  32. avatar

    fight corrupted politicians inside EU parlement and EU states and you got young people voting

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