Europe Takes to the Polls
Updated: May 24
From 23rd-26th May, EU citizens will be voting in the European Parliament elections. In addition to voting yourself, stay tuned with You&EU for key updates and election results.
What are the elections about?
During these elections, EU voters are electing Members of the European Parliament, MEPs, to represent them for the next 5 years. Key roles of the Parliament include appointing the President of the European Commission, setting the EU's annual budget, and voting on new laws proposed by the Commission. You can learn more about the European Parliament in our blog post here.
This election is your opportunity to have your say. To quote civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer, "If you don't vote, you don't count". Voting gives you the power to create change, shaping politics in line with your views by electing someone reflective of your values. Whilst it isn't the only way you can engage in international politics - it is certainly the most direct as you get to vote for people to represent you in one of the EU's main institutions.
It is particularly important for young people to vote in these elections. Historically, younger EU voters are less likely to actually vote than older citizens. In the last elections, just 28% of EU citizens under the age of 24 voted. Given the widening political divide between older and younger demographics across Europe, the result of this low turnout is a political landscape that reflects older voters' values but not those of the youth. In every country, the European Parliament elections are proportional - that means every single vote counts. Go out and have your say.
To find out how to vote in your country - check out our website here.
All eyes on the UK
The UK - which heads to the polls today (23rd) - will be a key focus for many across the EU. Given 51.9% of voters opted to leave the EU nearly 3 years, the UK was not supposed to partake in these elections (read more about 'Brexit' in our blog series here). Since the UK parliament has so far failed to agree on the terms of its withdrawal, the UK is still a member of the EU and therefore must hold elections to comply with EU law.
Many people are treating this election as a 'second Brexit referendum' - choosing to cast their vote in favour of pro-remain parties (e.g. the Green Party, Scottish National Party, or Liberal Democrats) or pro-leave parties (e.g. the Brexit Party, UKIP) according to their Brexit views. The result has been the predicted fall of mainstream middle-ground parties such as the Conservative and Labour parties, and the rise of right-wing, pro-leave parties such as the Brexit Party. Established by Nigel Farage, the leading face of the 2016 Brexit campaign, the Brexit Party has just one message - that it wants the UK to leave the EU. Despite refusing to publicize any of their policies, the Brexit Party is predicted to dominate these elections with over 30% of the vote, as pro-remain voters are split across multiple parties.
With young voters typically favouring remain (or at least avoiding a hard Brexit), the turnout of young voters in this election is key to preventing the rise of such right-wing parties.
As the elections unfold, stay tuned with You&EU for key updates. Remember though, no country can release the results of their elections until ALL member states have voted. That means no results until 26th May. Stay tuned and GO VOTE!
The EU impacts your life. Have a say in how.