It turns out that young people do care about politics. 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. On the other hand, despite recording the biggest uptick, young people still had the lowest turnout among all age groups in the 2019 EU elections. How can we get more young people to vote and engage in electoral politics?

In order to discuss solutions with citizens, Debating Europe, in partnership with Fondazione Cariplo, organised a series of online focus groups with 40 young Europeans to think of ways to regenerate European democracy. The report summarising the output of our focus group discussions was published at Friends of Europe’s high-level State of Europe roundtable event in Brussels on Thursday 27 October.

You can read the report here.

Want to learn more about youth engagement with politics? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

What do our readers think? We took some of the comments and ideas on youth engagement in politics generated during our discussions (as well as some questions sent in to us by email) and put them to:

  • Daniela Vancic, European Program Manager, Democracy International
  • Nicoletta Zibin, Secretary General, Stand Up for Europe
  • Simon Lindkær Andersen, Board Member, European Youth Forum
  • Urban Strandberg, Managing Director, International Youth Think Tank

They responded to a question from Luca from Italy:

“Considering Europe’s ageing population and low turnout among younger generations compared to older ones, it could be said that most democratic decisions are taken by older generations, or at least that representatives are voted by older constituencies. Do you think there should be more initiatives such as ‘This time I’m voting’ in order to boost younger voters’ turnout and political participation?”

We also had a question come in from Mariana from Portugal:

“When we segment and label generations, we start noticing patterns regarding habits, interests, and how each group consumes information. This may cause generalizations like “older people tend to be more conservative” or “young people produce more waste with their ever-changing consuming habits”. How can our current leaders keep up with diverse backgrounds and expectations and also with potential conflicts of interest arising from people living different moments of their lives? And knowing that politicians tend to be older, how can we train and elect younger leaders, despite the strong lack of interest of younger generations in politics? How to promote discussions that are more relevant to people’s daily lives, especially young adults?”

Yordan from Bulgaria made a suggestion during one of our focus groups:

“Maybe voting should be possible from an earlier age, 16 perhaps?

Finally, Mariavittoria from Italy made the following comment during a different focus group:

“My personal perspective is that, for a woman, and especially a young woman, it’s very hard to be listened to.”

How can we engage more young people in politics? Should there be more initiatives to boost youth political participation? How can we avoid generational conflict while giving young people a stronger voice? Should the voting age be lowered to 16 across Europe? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Editorially independent content supported by: Fondazione Cariplo. See our FAQ for more details. Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.


8 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    EU law- Children’s right to vote:

    General opinion:

    “In general, 16-year-olds have no interest in politics and are not educated well enough in politics to make an informed vote.”

    EU’s opinion:

    While the global average voting age is/remains around 18 years-

    – the EU considers its youth better informed and politically more mature than the global rest. Why? In desperate need to increase pro-EU support by all means?

    Why not let the specific group of 16-18 years- and all others as well read this scientific assessment first and hear their reactions- before jumping to conclusions?,Chan%20and%20Clayton%2C%202006).

    Lobbyists like ‘The EU youth forum’ cannot hold a special mandate!

    Thereafter, hold national Y/N referenda in all 27 sovereign EU Member states.


    Sorry kids, but my vote would be a No!

  2. avatar

    To organize them in so called: local and national young people organizations with representants in the political activities of municipalities and the government like in Norway.
    Children and young people should learn and understand the political system and that they have a voice in decisions at the local and national level!

  3. avatar

    Indem wir Politik für jüngere machen, deren Ansichten, Wünsche und Bedürfnisse ernst nehmen und aufhören weiter so stumpf konservativ zu sein…

  4. avatar
    International Youth Think Tank

    Thank you for having us on the debate and thank you to your readers for great questions! ❤️ IYTT

  5. avatar
    Stand Up for Europe

    Thanks so much for the great discussion and questions! Looking forward to continuing the push for more youth involvement in politics 🥳

  6. avatar

    I agree with Mariana. The governance of a population is too much based on categorial information. It should be about daily lives and public goals. We find ourselves nowadays in a situation where public debate is lacking or overtaken by private companies as is the case with Twitter. EU fully engages in this situation, by which the political soul of democracy is sold to capitalism. Capitalism has become totalitarian by generalized exploitation, by the media, by social media owned by companies particulary. For users it’s a matter of exploit or be exploiteted. We are deprived of a world and society, for long already, in this way.

  7. avatar
    JT HK

    Ask first the young people whether they have good suggestion in response to the crises first. Everyone can follow politician to criticize but not many wise people can offer suggestion to handle crises. Only by practicing more to help solving problem young people can become wise. Those shouting irrationally and damaging valuable collections in museums are selfish and stupid, costing more damage of the society rather than building a good one.

  8. avatar
    JT HK…/east-palestine…/index.html This is a good topic to engage young people in politics. There is environmental issue, why media focusing on a balloon rather than an environmental disaster? There is lots of politics involved.

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