The fifth morning of our trip found us in León, where we were immediately welcomed by the mayor of León and his counsellors representing the Peoples’ Party. It was a good opportunity to find out more about the political and economic situation in the region, especially during the debate that followed, hosted by the counsellors, all aged under 35. We discussed on topics related to economy, youth policies at local and regional level and gender equality strategies in León, which brought us a step closer to understanding the situation of the region.
The reception we were given was very warm, and the Q&A session on youth participation in the elections and politics more generally, was very useful, as the answers provided were straight to the point. We left with the belief that citizens might become more involved into politics if politicians would invest more time into informing people and being closer to them.
The next task in the afternoon was to debate with Spanish candidates to the European Parliament, representing different Spanish parties. This time, the answers received were more evasive and the impressions among participants were divided.
Finally, a brainstorming followed and we arrived to the conclusion that more impact, more visibility was needed. For this, we decided to make large posters with questions pointing out the impact of the EU on citizens’ daily lives (GMOs, ACTA, roaming) and reminding the date of the EU elections. This proved to be a very good strategy which we decided to follow during the next days as well, as citizens were not only more responsive, but were also approaching us to ask questions.
As a conclusion on our experience during the first four days, I would say that politicians are not doing enough -if anything at all- to inform people about voting. A surprisingly large number of people were unaware of the elections or the voting procedures. On a more personal level, I feel a growing connection with the Spanish people as the days go by, especially culturally-wise. The European space creates the opportunity of sharing our cultural heritages and growing together, while preserving peace, mutual respect and cooperation. This process, however, will not be an easy one.
Ado Dragičević, AEGEE Zagreb – participant