Did you know the European Elections are happening in May 2019? Since 1979 European citizens can cast their votes and directly vote for the national representatives in the European Parliament.
The last, historically low, turnout of 42,6% in 2014 clearly shows that many European citizens view these elections as meaningless. When confronted with the EU, preconceptions such as “What can the EU do for me anyway?” or “The EU is too far away and adopts too many useless regulations” are re-emerging. Even the national parties have had a tendency to send people to Brussels who have outlived one’s usefulness at national level. For a long time ‘Europe’ was not a topic with which one could mobilise people, but rather an unknown construct which one could blame for what is going wrong on the continent. Brexit is the leading consequence of this narrative.
However, instead of fueling these preconceptions and playing with people’s ignorance of the EU, it is time to acknowledge the importance of Europe and thus the European elections. The parliament and its elections deserve a serious debate. We cannot leave voters in the lurch trying to make sense of a superficial and populist debate which happens only every 5 years.
There are issues that all European citizens are facing and which can only be solved on European level. The demands of the school strikes for climate, which ignited all over the world, are an example of this required unity. When the famous Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was in Brussels recently, she marched together with students from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The young activists on stage are already mobilising their followers to go to the polls and vote for the European Elections. The long-lasting consequences of the policies are felt by everyone across Europe and therefore need a solution that comes from a supranational entity. On the same day as Greta spoke to EU policy-makers in the European Economic and Social Committee, our President Annemie Drieskens also spoke up, and issued a call to vote in the European elections.
Let those young people be an example: It is time to put the European Elections in our calendars, and exercise our democratic right.
Just follow these simple steps:
- Mark the dates 23-26 May 2019 in your calendar! Check here for the official Election Day in your country.
- Check if there is a deadline for registration! (Important for first time voters and citizens living abroad – deadlines fast approaching)
- In case you are unable to vote on Election Day, prepare to vote by post or proxy.
- Get informed and debate with friends and family!
- Go to the polling station on 23-26 May 2019.