In the almost decade I have worked in European politics one of the most despiriting things I have witnessed is the decline in voters taking part in the elections many of our relatives worked hard, if not died, for us to get.
In fact, over the last few months of reading turnout statistics and polling projections, it would be easy to conclude that hardly anyone, frankly, gives a shit about next year’s European Parliament elections.
Hardly anyone that is apart from a certain Steve Bannon and his European friends, who are ready to take advantage of a low turnout, low interest, low hope and your fears and concerns. Why do they care? Well, in their own words, to destroy the European project.
If that all seems gloomy, that’s because it is. It is an unpleasant fact that as you go about your day there are people dedicating their time and effort to map out how to use next year’s European Parliament elections to further divide Europe and the people in it. They are relying on us to not organise and fight back.
So you may wonder, why would anyone invest time and energy in a project trying to drive out the youth vote in Europe’s major urban hotspots? When we all know that 18-24 year olds hardly vote and their older peers, 24-30, are too cool for the good old voting station (which make for terrible Instagram photos compared to coffee and avocado toast!).
Well, it is the 18 year old who will have to live the longest with the consequences of a low turnout – and all that it implies – in May 2019. It is the 25 year old, trying to figure out what to do with everything they’ve learnt in university and where to head for a job, that will take those decisions in the European Union of 2020.
Call me mad – you won’t be judged – but it’s the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. Being Romanian, born a year after the revolution that brought down the Berlin Wall and with it the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe, having lived in the UK and now in the capital of Europe, I have benefited from the full range of options and opportunities that the EU has given its free citizens – free to travel, move around, study, work, build families and live anywhere on the continent.
So yes, I do care, I care big time. I care for you, for me, for my family, for my 3 year old niece born British, for my friends, for the legitimate dreams and hopes of every youngster on this continent. I care deeply about the EU, I am and feel European, and I think it is up to us, up to each of us, to shape the Europe of tomorrow. This starts by taking part in the most fundamental opportunity we have to shape it; the election that determines who will be making those decisions on our behalf in the European Parliament. It is taking place 23-26 May next year in every country in the EU.
Only 13% of Slovakians voted in the 2014 elections and only 24% of all 18-24 years old in Europe. Put simply, the future of the many was decided by the few. Therefore, at next year’s election, I want to aim to get 100% of all young people showing up to the polls.
We are happy to take this opportunity to announce our FuckingVote! Project. Mark your calendars, we’ll be there with an army of shapers and volunteers to make sure you have your say in our collective future! To the polls, my friends! Because if there was a time to give a fuck, this is it!