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:
The 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!