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#NoSayDay

Mapped onto 365 days, 10 January is the last day young voices are represented in parliaments around the world. That is why the United Nations have dubbed this day the #NoSayDay.

Things are no better in the European Parliament.

Just a few months before the next European elections, only two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are still under 30. This is just 0.28% of all MEPs - a lot less than the global average.

For the European Union to meet the challenges of young people today, we need more young candidates and youth representation. We, young people, have the talent, experience, ideas, vision and energy to be brilliant MEPs. We are on the streets, in schools, on campuses, and in our workplaces fighting for our rights every day and we deserve to be at the decision-making table. Including young people in electoral lists should not be a tokenistic exercise of filling a quota.

In a thriving democracy, it's essential that all social groups actively engage in politics to ensure the legitimacy of decisions made. However, our current political structures could strengthen efforts to value young candidates, especially those facing discrimination or precarity. This leads to decreased involvement of young people due to a lack of ownership over decisions and the decision-making process.

Given the scarcity of young people in positions of power, youth participation in decision-making processes should be facilitated in other ways too. For the first time German and Belgian 16-year-olds will join young people from Malta and Austria to vote in the upcoming elections. This is great news for youth participation, but it results in discrimination for other 16-year-old Europeans who are not allowed to vote.

That is why the European Youth Forum and the European Political Party Youth Wings across the political spectrum are calling upon political parties to:

  • select young candidates to run in the European Parliament elections this June - in electable spots
  • include in their manifesto a commitment to lower the voting age to 16
  • focus campaign efforts on first-time voters and young people, especially those from less-represented communities
  • train and invest in young talent within the party so they are prepared for future elections and ensure funding for party political youth organisations

The European Parliament elections are a chance to bring young people’s voices into the centre of our democracies and boost the percentage of young MEPs.

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