European Elections: youth voting movement

PLIS Be European campaign at Plaza de la Constitución in Fuengirola. Credits: PLIS

As the countdown to the European elections on June 9 intensifies, a new hashtag has been dominating youth social media feeds and city streets across Europe.

The #votEforU, spearheaded by the Be European campaign, is capturing the attention of young people through a blend of online and offline activities, emphasizing the significance of elections and the act of voting.

The goal of the campaign, orchestrated by the Association for Social Intelligence (PLIS), goes beyond merely simplifying the electoral process for young individuals of all ages. 

It aims to inspire those aged 18 and above to seize their rights as citizens and cast their votes, not just as an act of civic participation, but as an expression of their motivations, hopes, and dreams for their future and their country.

  • Be European campaign in Spain

PLIS’s campaign has taken centre stage in the streets and digital spheres of various countries, from Belgium to Romania and Sweden. In Spain, all eyes were on Plaza de la Constitución in Fuengirola on the last Friday of May, as PLIS Spain orchestrated a street debate that brought the online trend ‘I vote for’ to life.

PLIS Be European campaign at Plaza de la Constitución in Fuengirola. Credit: PLIS

Amidst a diverse crowd of youth, children, adults, and seniors, in front of the Iglesia Parroquial Virgen del Rosario, PLIS blended past and present, joining the collective experiences and perspectives of individuals of all ages to spark curiosity and engagement regarding the European elections. 

Through debates led by members with the audience, interactive activities featuring maps, Post-it notes, and live music, young PLIS members connected with passers by, fostering dialogue and awareness.

Debora Barrientos, founder and president of PLIS Spain, explained the ethos behind the campaign: “We combine community activities, such as street debates, with the dissemination of the theme ‘Be European’ for the upcoming elections.” 

Inspired by the famous cartoon protagonist Mafalda’s critical thinking and activism while younger, Barrientos aimed to reignite her passion for change and a better world during adulthood. 

She founded the organization to create experiences and share insights on personal and professional development, filling a gap in the Costa del Sol’s social landscape.

PLIS Be European campaign at Plaza de la Constitución in Fuengirola. Credit: PLIS
  •  The emerging young changemakers 

The seeds sown by Barrientos are not just sprouting enthusiasm for voting among youth in Spain but also nurturing a spirit of advocacy for social change. 

Yoel Castellano, a third-year ESO student, and PLIS member, stumbled upon the organization by chance but has since found purpose and fulfillment in its activities. “Honestly, my enrolment was quite fortuitous. My parents told me to attend an event, not knowing what it was about. I couldn’t be happier to have come.” 

By volunteering his time, he aims to inflame excitement among his peers as he believes that the increase of young votes can directly impact the youth’s independent thinking, he mentions that “these new voters would have to think what they value and do research to find the political party that fits them best.”

When it comes to the main challenges of political involvement among youth, Castellano affirms that the lack of interest can come from the lack of initiatives and discussions in school. “Not many youngsters fully know how the European political system works. Another point is they either do not know or don´t think much of this process, thus skipping the elections.”

PLIS Be European campaign at Plaza de la Constitución in Fuengirola. Credit: PLIS
  • The education importance behind the elections

As the Be European campaign continues to gather momentum through social media until the election days, more and more students decide to share their reasons behind their votes. 

The 18-year-old student Luiza Golin confirms the social trend gives the student a voice by spreading information about politics. “By learning about the European elections they could spread awareness and realize that they can take an important life in the community and not be just some “know-nothing teenagers,” said Golin.

The possibility of changing their community and achieving essential rights, such as equal salaries, and work as study abroad opportunities, as defended by some youth on the online trends, are driving students of all ages to critically reflect about their country’s situation and need for improvement. 

For Golin, education is the main topic that needs to be addressed and taken into consideration by other students in this election. “I really appreciate the wonderful system that we have, but there are still many points where we need to improve, the list is endless,” she said.

PLIS Be European campaign at Plaza de la Constitución in Fuengirola. Credit: PLIS
  • Hopes for a better future 

The youth participation in politics, and especially in the European elections, is for Golin a chance to have her thoughts, ideas, and future taken into consideration by having the youth’s voice heard. “If the people don’t vote then we’re going to stay the same, and I’m sure everyone wants to see some change and voting is the only way.” 

With days left for the European elections, the fervour surrounding the PLIS-led Be European campaign continues gaining new young voices online. 

Through a fusion of grassroots activism and digital mobilization, PLIS has not only demystified the electoral process but also fired up a spirit of empowerment among Europe’s youth. 

As young citizens across the continent prepare to cast their votes, it’s clear that they are not just participants in democracy but architects of its future. With each ballot cast, they are forging a path toward a more inclusive, engaged, and vibrant European community.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Written by

Talyta Franca

Talyta Franca, Class 2026, Northwestern University in Qatar.

Comments


    • Brian

      08 June 2024 • 13:32

      But who would they be voting for? Top brass in the EU is unelected!

    Comments are closed.