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Youngsters at European Elections

Posted on: 07.11.2018

This girl is going to vote: Here’s why she’s very excited about it

Young Europeans looking forward to participate in any kind of elections? It’s not a myth and yes, it’s very much possible! Anastasia Veneziano, 19-year-old Italian law student, is very excited about the upcoming European elections in May 2019. She’ll vote for the second time in her life and right at the beginning of her voting experience, she’ll have the opportunity to vote as a European.

Anastasia Veneziano is 19 years old and she is voting in the European elections for the first time

– I’ve always thought voting is more than just a right, it comes with a lot of responsibility and huge amount of power, a power I think we’re overlooking a lot recently. We tend to forget that since Europe was created by its citizens, we are those that can actively change it and make it again into something that we believe in. The only way we can do that is by voting, reflects Anastasia, currently Erasmus student in Rijeka, Croatia.

What am I going to get in return?

She thinks once youngsters are aware of that, it becomes clear to them that everyone should vote. However, young people tend to forget that. In that sense, Anastasia thinks highschools are maybe the first place to introduce students about the EU political participation. In her opinion, they should spark students curiosity or at least mention things because young people will want to know more about it and they should actively participate in European political life since they’re going to use some of the benefits of European Union.

– European Union does a lot for its citizens, it changes according to where you are and what your country’s needs are, but overall, I’m an Erasmus student, that’s the perfect example because I would not be able to go around and study somewhere else so easily, says Anastasia who wants to become a diplomat or deal with matters of international environment. As she says, she comes from “not really intellectual” family, but nevertheless she was able to catch their attention about European issues.

Until going to the University of Trento, Anastasia knew what most people know about Europe.

– I knew that it existed, which was cool. I knew that Italy was part of it. Also cool. And I knew I could travel around European Union only with my ID. The coolest.

Those things are something good and practical to get in return from the EU, but it’s not just like that. Whatever your field of interest is, there’s probably something European Union has done for you or will do for you. So you get a lot of in return if you know how to look, thinks Anastasia.

But what if you do not know how and where to look?

Where does the distrust come from?

– The information exists, but the way it is presented by the institution may not be the most appealing to young voters. I tried to look to the official websites but I would get distracted very easily. I found it kind of boring. I need something that called my attention immediately and videos are much more likely to do that, points Anastasia.

The lack of communication between European citizens and European Union may lay in the distrust about the institution role, finds Anastasia.

– That is something that Europe as an institution has to work on. In general, people are suspicious about European work. They tend to know wrong things when it comes to the Commission and the European Parliament. I met people that have no idea what is the role of each institution. And of course, if citizens do not know where European deputies came from, all things coming from Brussels turn out kind of suspicious, she adds.

From silence to voice

People do not know what is happening in European Union, “unless there is some really big issues going on or if Italy has to pay something” believes the Italian girl. Anastasia feels that people just get to know “about duties toward the European Union” and not so much about “what they do for us”.

– If nothing like that happens, silence is all you hear about the European Union, points out Anastasia.

On the other hand, according to the latest Parliament Eurobarometer, for the first time, 48% of European citizens believe that “their voice counts in the European Union”. Things are changing a lot regarding young people voting, told us Anastasia, not just in Italy but regarding the whole European Union. Certainly youngsters are noticing how things are going in EU and they’re not liking it.

– I could see it in the way my friends spoke about it, that they want a change. Which is something that, I think couple of years ago, would’ve just been impossible, they would just be passive. Now I think people are starting to understand that this is serious and the situation is starting to degenerate, and if they wish to do something, now is the time, concludes Anastasia, emphasizing again she’s looking forward to voting in May 2019. Of course, because, this time, she voting!

“Convince some, informe all”

Anastasia is also part of a new EU campaign called “This time I’m voting”, meant to raise the awareness of the upcoming European Elections.

“She is one of the people who we noticed that she recruited a lot of others to join the community”, says Stephen Clark, director for Relations with Citizens at European Parliament.

Instead of just trying to convince people to go and vote, this time the EU is also telling them to convince the others to vote too.

Inspired by early Obama campaigns, Stephen, hopes that “Now I’m voting” will convince more people such as Anastasia to become active and convince others. “She is a typical case of someone who maybe was not very political active before, but with this campaign something clicked and she though «I want to do something about this» because it’s the whole issue of political participation and in her perception it was a really important thing to do. So we’re natural allies in a way in this campaign”.

Stephen Clark, director for Relations with Citizens at European Parliament

Independent from any political party and ideology, the campaign’s goal is to promote a democratic engagement in the European elections. So far, according to Steve, there are 74,000 people that have signed and from those, 4,000 people actively have come forward and said “we want to be volunteers”. Recently, the campaign officials have started to meet those people.

The first version of the campaign website was launched on the start of june, just before the summer, more like an experimental thing. After it got traction, Steve says that the EU started to promote the movement locally, and then they noticed a big growth.

In regards to audience, the director explains that while it’s true that the general design, tonality and language is focused towards younger audiences, they are not ignoring the others and are working with classic media channels in order to get their message heard.

“To an extent we are looking for particular sorts of audiences and the notion behind the campaign is to convince some and inform all. The people we think we should try to convince about voting are the people that are not against voting in any sort of principle, but tend not to vote for some less significant reasons. Maybe it’s just not in their habits or the weather was bad the last time voting day came around or something else needed to be done they were late in the night before”, says the director for Relations with Citizens at European Parliament.

Everyone can sign in and become a ambassador, people from all over the EU already contributing on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. which is then promoted by the Parliament.