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Representative democracy

Despite young people making up around 25 percent of Europe’s population, very few of our politicians and decision-makers are under 30 years old.

Young people can often feel excluded from politics and decision-making processes. In recent years, they are also less likely to become a member of a political party or participate in other traditional ways.

However, this gap between traditional forms of democracy and young people is not inevitable! The European Youth Forum advocates for change in how we think about our democracies, to make them much more inclusive and representative for young generations.

What needs to happen?

  • All governments should lower the voting age to 16 in all elections. Moreover, the age limits for the right to vote and the right to stand for election must be aligned in all public elections.

  • Governments must take active measures to raise the number of young people voting and running in elections. in partnership with youth organisations.

  • Political parties must do more to ensure that youth interests are represented in the party and that young people feel welcome to participate.

Our must read!

This study provides an overview of the themes and trends around the topic of young people’s relationship with democratic life in Europe. It follows up a first study published by the League of Young Voters in 2014, which looked into the reasons why young people abstained from voting in large numbers in elections to the European Parliament. This second study looks at youth political participation in a broader sense than just voting, while also including the perspectives of academics, policy makers, and practitioners.

Related news and publications

Safeguarding Civic Space for Young People in Europe

Publication - 04/05/2022
By speaking out, gathering together online and offline, and by participating in public decision-making, individuals and communities use...

Launch of the European Charter for Youth and Democracy

News - 07/03/2022

The European Committee of the Regions and the European Youth Forum join forces to bring young people closer to the EU!


Young people call for international solidarity with Ukraine in response to Russian aggression

Statement - 24/02/2022

We are horrified by Russia's act of aggression and the impact it will have on Ukraine’s youth as well as the population at large - their security, their hopes, their lives.