European Elections Reflections - what we know so far
The time has come for change in the European Parliament and our European leaders. Now, Europeans have spoken! In the past few days, voters across the continent turned out to vote in the biggest display of European democracy seen in recent history. So what do we know so far?
It’s the taking part that counts
Results aside, there is something that all Europeans can be hopeful about this week - the participation rate. For the first time in 40 years, the average voter turnout across the EU increased, with current estimates at 51%. This would be a dramatic increase from the previous turnout back in 2014, which saw only 42.5% of European citizens going to the ballot box. While we will have to wait a bit longer to find out how this increase reflects the youth vote, it is clear that overall this is a positive step forward for European democracy.
Pro-European parties won out!
Despite early predictions of a rise in nationalism and far-right politics, the results show that pro-European messages and parties did well and have kept a steady majority in the European Parliament.
Far-right parties still gaining ground
The flip-side is that in some countries and regions, the significant increase in votes for nationalistic and far-right parties cannot be ignored. European citizens, including many young people, are turning away from the ‘traditional’ parties and looking to alternative ones to address their concerns. At a time when the European Union has faced many challenges and its future has been questioned, it is more important than ever to reach out and ensure that we can create a future of Europe that includes everyone.
Youth was high on the political-agenda
One big focus that ran throughout many political campaigns and across different European parties was the engagement of young people. Issues such as the school climate strikes, social inequalities and the future of work were pushed to the forefront. As part of our #ChangeisComing campaign, the European Youth Forum and our Member Organisations also reached out to political parties across the spectrum, working with them to include the youth perspective. From organising ‘Youth Days’ where top candidates were directly challenged and questioned by young people, to shaping the Maastricht Debate to reflect the topics that young people care about.
Prioritising the wellbeing of people, future generations and the planet in all decisions and policies must not stop here. We now call on the European Council to nominate a youth-friendly President to the European Commission, one who not only can command a majority in the European Parliament but also champions youth rights and dialogue with young people across all policy fields of the European Union. Our elections campaign may be ending, but our fight to put young people at the heart of European democracy is just beginning.
We congratulate all new MEPs on their election, especially newly-elected young representatives, and invite them to engage with us to #YouthUp Europe with fresh new ideas and visions. We very much look forward to continuing our promotion and protection of youth rights with a new European Parliament Youth Intergroup, coming soon!