What is the project Y Vote 2014: It’s up to YOU(th) about?
The Y Vote project is not a brand new idea of European Students’ Forum (AEGEE-Europe). In 2009 members of our organisation worked together on a European-wide campaign in order to raise awareness and increase youth participation in the European elections. Still, the voter turnout among young people was dramatically low, as 75% of them did not take part in the European Parliament elections 2009. (Eurobarometer, 2009) Development of this project about the European elections 2014 therefore starts with a need: we believe that young people need to receive better information regarding the European elections, as well as different European institutions and the European Union in general.Currently Europe is mentioned more than ever due to the crisis affecting many member states and the way the European Union is dealing with it. This information is often biased and unclear.
The media and politicians too often use general terms like ‘Europe’ or ‘Brussels’, instead of clarifying if they refer to European Parliament, European Commission or the European Council. Moreover, we can observe a lack of understanding of what the European Union really does and how it affects young people on a daily basis. As a result, the motivation of young people to actively participate in European democratic processes decreases.We have observed those problems regarding youth participation in the EU elections.
While approaching young people, they identified the following concerns:
- Lack of information: Currently, youngsters grow up in a European living space, but are insufficiently aware of the benefits and opportunities they can receive from it.
- “Brussels is far away”: The European Union, having most of its institutions in Brussels, may seem too far from youth. They are unaware of what is going on within the European institutions and how the EU institutions’ decisions affect them.
- Lack of a European public space: Media tend to present European issues from a national perspective. The few European media that exist, remain in the Brussels’ bubble without a strong visibility and recognition outside.
- Europe is the one to blame: The work of the European Parliament is not visible, its powers are unknown to the general public. At the same time, the work of MEPs is rarely visible in the media, rather being highlighted in a negative perspective. In most European countries it can be observed that the European Union is used as a scapegoat for all unpopular decisions.
- EP elections as a national political tool: The campaign for the European Parliament elections is based on national politics. It is often used as a test before the next national elections. Therefore, 28 campaigns are being led instead of one joint European campaign.
- EP elections are not taken seriously: European Parliament is not attractive for the most popular politicians in the member states. It may be linked to a shared belief that decisions taken at the European level are less relevant than those at the national level.
- The campaigns are not clear to the general public: Political groups’ programmes lack a clear vision of Europe, as a result people vote according to their ideology or the national politics. It is difficult to realise what ideas concerning European affairs different political parties have, as there is not much of a European agenda that the citizens are aware of.
- Ideological barriers: A rise of Euroscepticism, as well as a rise of nationalism and xenophobia can be observed throughout Europe. These radical voices discourage youngsters from getting involved in the democratic processes of the European Union.
We are aware that a great effort needs to be made in order to win back trust from youth on the European Union. That is why we believe that peer learning between young people is one of the best ways to carry it out!
Since we are a youth organisation, our project is addressed to the young Europeans, especially:
- first-time voters, which means mostly people of maximum of 23 years old
- students, who have already had voting experience
Aims and Objectives:
What do we want to achieve with this project?
Our aim is to turn first-time voters and students into actors of the European Parliamentary Elections 2014 by informing and encouraging them to participate.
More specifically, we want to (Objectives):
- Reach with our campaign first-time voters and students from the 28 member states
- Increase by 30% the voter turnout of the participants of our actions
- Inform students and first-time voters from the 28 members states and students from neighboring countries about the powers of the European Parliament and its impact on our daily lives.
- Empower all participants of our actions to make an informed choice by creating a Voting Guide.
- Strengthen student and first-time voter understanding of Europe and their sense of European identity.
- Create a Youth Agenda which will present youth’s vision of Europe.
LINK TO OFFICIAL Y VOTE 2014 DOSSIER: https://www.dropbox.com/s/n8vy0o3lgg821rh/dossierY%20Vote%20final.pdf