The lack of interest in European elections

Despite persistent claims that the future of the EU is a subject of undeniable importance, young Lithuanians’ interest and participation in the elections to the European Parliament is alarmingly low. When asked if it is true young people honestly admit the fact. Evelina (name changed), a representative of the youngest generation of Lithuanian voters, explained that recently she had been focused on other very important decisions.

„I’m pretty well aware of the approaching European elections and I will take this opportunity to have my say. However, I hardly know anything about the candidates. I think this is because my whole attention has recently been drawn to another very important event, namely, the presidential elections,“ said Evelina.

Young Lithuanians’ interest and participation in the elections to the European Parliament is alarmingly low

In fact, the percentage of young voters participating in the presidential elections is growing and it infuses some optimism.

„According to our data, in 2019, 46.06% of Lithuanian youth chose to cast their vote in the presidential elections. Today, as shown by the preliminary data, this portion has grown up to approximately 49%,“ said Lina Petronienė, the chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC).

According to Petronienė, statistics from previous European and parliamentary elections confirm a low turnout among young voters. However, there is no reason to lose hope. On the contrary, society should realize the significance of the collective initiative in encouraging young individuals to be more active in various elections.

„When it comes to increasing the young people’s engagement, the biggest challenge for both the institutions and society is to promote awareness of electoral processes and responsibility that goes into being a civic-minded person. In this regard, the contribution of the CEC alone is definitely insufficient,“ emphasized Petronienė.

According to the CEC chairperson, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, and even families should take part in this collective initiative as citizens’ involvement in state governance is one of the underlying principles of democracy.

Statistics from previous European and parliamentary elections confirm a low turnout among young voters

The right to vote is granted to more than 66 thousand young Lithuanians

In Lithuania, the European elections will be held on 9 June 2024. It is a unique moment when we can all collectively decide on the EU agenda for the next five years. Surely, youth voice is as important as that of any other layer of society.

„It’s interesting to note, that this year the right to vote is given to more than 66 thousand Lithuanian citizens born after our country joined the European Union,“ said Petronienė.

There is an aspect that makes this year’s elections special compared to those in the past.

„Contrary to what was in the past, the forthcoming elections will take place separately from any other elections. Previously, the European elections coincided with the second tour of the presidential elections therefore the level of voter participation was rather high,“ noted Petronienė.

She added that for this reason, the turnout for the upcoming European elections is rather unpredictable.

„In June 2009, the turnout reached almost 21%,“ reminded Petronienė.

Over 66 thousand young Lithuanians are given the right to vote in the European elections

Making decisions is a difficult but crucial task

The Members of the European Parliament are representatives of different EU member states who make decisions relevant to a wide range of issues. This year Lithuanian voters will elect 11 Members of the European Parliament. However, young people say they do not have a strong opinion about the candidates and their expertise.

„As I’ve already mentioned, up to this point, our attention has been drawn elsewhere. I feel I lack even the basic knowledge about the Lithuanian candidates. Hopefully, the information required to make an informed decision is available online,“ said Evelina.

Giedrius, another respondent whose name was changed, concurs with Evelina.

„To be honest, in the meantime, I know almost nothing about it. I don’t even know all the candidates who are applying for these positions. Nevertheless, I believe that the outcome of the upcoming elections is very significant. Therefore, I will make sure to conduct thorough research and cast my vote on election day,“ he said adding that his peers are at a loss too.

„It seems that many young people are not discussing the upcoming elections. This indifference may be due to a lack of knowledge. It’s unclear why there is such apathy. Perhaps we should try to generate more interest,“ said Giedrius when commenting on the current situation.

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