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High youth absenteeism at the European Parliament elections is directly linked to the failure of political parties to address young people and youth issues

November 5, 2013

Brussels, 5 November 2013 /// Today the League of the Young Voters and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) presented a study on youth participation and representation at European elections that suggests that national political organisations do not fully socialise young people into a voting pattern.

The ‘Roundtable on preliminary findings of a new study on youth participation and representation at European elections’ jointly held this afternoon by the League of the Young Voters in Europe and the Office of International IDEA to the EU, gathered representatives of the different political groups of the European Parliament, democracy actors, representatives of International IDEA and the European Youth Forum to discuss the preliminary results of a study that will be published in December 2013.

Among other important findings, the report confirms that youth absenteeism is reflected in the political competition available, as political parties fail to address young people and youth issues. In European Parliament elections held in 2009, 50% of over 55 year olds made use of their vote, whereas only 29% of the 18 to 24 year olds voted. This leaves younger citizens in a marginalised position, as the majority of the Parliament is representative of the concerns of older voters.

In light of these findings Giuseppe Porcaro, Secretary General of the European Youth Forum stated “Young people must be at the heart of next year’s European elections as young people’s involvement in politics will increase the quality of European democracy. This joint study shows that national political parties need to significantly change their approach in order to engage youth in the campaign. The League of Young Voters will help them to achieve this aim”.

Andrew Bradley, Director of the Office of International IDEA to the EU, said “the inclusion of youth in formal politics is important for representative democracy and its institutions. In the past two years, around the world, we have seen that when youth is excluded from the traditional political processes, social cohesion, security and stability are at stake. Inclusive democracy equals the full and active participation of young people, and I would like to appeal to European political parties to put young people at the core of their business”.

The report includes a list of concrete recommendations on how to improve the participation of young people in the elections, to be held in May 2014. The full study will be published in December 2013.

Background information:

The League of Young Voters in Europe is a politically neutral initiative that aims to amplify young people’s concerns and expectations in the run-up to European elections. The League is set up as its own organisation driven by the European Youth Forum, together with VoteWatch Europe and the International Debate Education Association. It aims to tackle the ever-decreasing youth participation at the European Parliament elections by increasing the level of youth-related information available about the elections, but also by encouraging political parties and candidates to directly target young people in their campaigns. It will aim to become the electoral platform for young people in Europe, existing at “European level”, covering European political parties, but will also exist at the national and local levels through national and local League of Young Voters branches.

The European Youth Forum (YFJ) is the platform of youth organisations in Europe. Independent, democratic and youth-led, it represents 99 National Youth Councils and International Youth Organisations from across the continent. The Forum works to empower young people to participate actively in society to improve their own lives, by representing and advocating their needs and interests and those of their organisations towards the European Institutions, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organisation with the mission to support sustainable, effective and legitimate democracy worldwide. International IDEA produces comparative knowledge in its key areas of expertise: electoral processes, constitution building, political participation and representation, and democracy and development, as well as on democracy as it relates to gender, diversity, and conflict and security. It brings this knowledge to national and local actors who are working for democratic reform, and facilitates dialogue in support of democratic change. International IDEA is based in Stockholm, Sweden, but has regional offices in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and West Asia and North Africa regions. It has a Permanent Representative at the UN, an Office to the EU in Brussels and to the AU in Addis Ababa.

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