European elections – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.11 To vote or not to vote? Should that still be a question? /to-vote-or-not-to-vote-should-that-still-be-a-question/ Fri, 30 May 2014 19:02:34 +0000 /?p=5289 by Monica Nica

In Sofia, the Europe on Track presentation was part of a larger event dedicated to the Y Vote project, also organised by AEGEE. The format comprised an initial debate on compulsory voting, followed by a panel debate on voting and youth participation, ending with our presentation on the European Parliament elections.

During the debate, two teams from Sofia Debate Association brought up their best arguments in favour and against compulsory voting. The debate was carried out in Bulgarian, but we had Angel translating for us. Although he did a great job, he conveyed just the big picture, providing us with the main lines along which the debate developed, without going into details. Basically, the team arguing in favour of compulsory voting said that this measure would cause the receding of right-wing parties’ influence; furthermore, being obliged to vote, citizens would develop an increased interest in politics, give more informed votes and would become more active in holding politicians accountable. This last argument, has been reversed by the opposing team asserting that arbitrary and unreflective voting would take hold of most of the apathetic electorate. With regard to the winners/losers of mandatory voting, the other side of the coin was emphasised, as they said that big parties would profit if everyone would vote. Moreover, the team kept reiterating the ‘not voting’ or ‘not expressing one’s opinion’ right.

10371534_318146711666306_3262859861645054090_nAlthough I do not fully agree with some of the arguments on both sides, since I could not grasp the debate in its entirety, which might have included some nuances making me more amenable to them, I prefer not to rebut them. But I will mention some rebuttal coming from the public. Compulsory voting was compared with taxes, as a duty citizens have and the white vote was mentioned as an option for those who do not want to express their opinion on the political offer. Finally, several participants said that young people’s low turnout does not equate a low interest in politics, conclusion also derived by research on the topic.

An interesting position, which I cannot recall hearing it from a young person before, held during the ensuing panel debate, stated that young people do feel represented; and if they do not, it is because it is normal for them to be against the system. Furthermore, a real dialogue between politicians and the citizens instead of mandatory voting, was mentioned as a different and maybe more effective way of inducing a higher turnout. One very memorable metaphor used for compulsory voting was comparing it to an imagined obligation to buy tomatoes, just that the only ones available on the market are rotten. This statement is quite revealing on how young Bulgarians relate to their politicians and national political arena.

Although research shows that given a congenial setting, compulsory voting seems to be the only institutional mechanism able to raise turnout in the range of 90%, questions remain, for example, how would everyone voting change the politicians’ approach to the citizens? Politicians respond to the interests of those that participate. Hence, could this provide them with an increased incentive to have a real dialogue with citizens mentioned previously? How would outcomes change? Apparently it would not make much of a difference on the outcome as the preferences of non-voters are similar to those who vote.

Although it might be difficult for any of the sides to have an indisputable victory in this debate, it is definitely worth having an exchange of arguments on the topic .

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Europe on Track 2: The great Finale /europe-on-track-2-the-great-finale/ Thu, 15 May 2014 16:20:37 +0000 /?p=5255 31 days, 25 cities and 16 countries since the departure from Brussels on 9th April, the Europe on Track 2 teams arrived at their last stops: Strasbourg and Budapest, respectively.

Europe on Track, winner of the 2013 European Charlemagne Youth Prize,was asked to present the project to inspire the more than 5,000 young people meeting in Strasbourg for the European Youth Event 2014. The session was moderated by Mrs Katrin Ruhrmann, director for Information Offices of European Parliament, and Mrs Bettina Leysen, vice-chairwoman of the Charlemagne Prize Foundation.

Around a hundred participants during the Europe on Track session in the European Parliament i Strasbourg

Around a hundred participants during the Europe on Track session in the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Réka Salamon, project coordinator, and Mathieu Soete, traveller from the first edition, had the chance to debate the conclusions of the project with a full room of youngsters from all EU member states. The audience proved to be very active, especially regarding the topics of youth participation and youth employment. A secondary school student from Cyprus demanded more complete education on democratic participation to be able to better exercise their right to vote. “The system of our parents’ generation doesn’t work anymore”, remarked one of the participants when asked how to enhance their chances of employment.
Mrs Katrin Ruhrmann ended the fruitful session encouraging the participants to keep voicing their demands and ideas through projects like Europe on Track, ensuring that the input gathered does reach policy makers.

 

At the same time, the second team of travellers took part in a conference in the Corvinus university of Budapest aiming to raise awareness of the upcoming European Parliamentary Elections and of the importance of active citizenship. AEGEE-Budapest, ESN Hungary, the National Youth Council, the Higher Education Student Organizations Association and GovFaces participated in the presentations that later gave way to a lively discussion. Students raised contrasting opinions on the importance the Hungarian society gives to active participation when living in a reality of economic decay and disillusionment with politics.​

AEGEE will embark now on the last phase of the project, analysing all the input received to support its advocacy work both in Brussels and at local level. Similarly to the previous edition, AEGEE will collect all opinions and recommendations in a results booklet and a documentary giving an insight into how the youth wants to shape the future of Europe, their future.

Budapest

“We are extremely proud of how far AEGEE´s Europe on Track initiative has reached, how it has been able to mobilize not only AEGEEans all over the continent, but also concerned young people wanting to share their visions and to participate in the construction of a new Europe. Thank you to our partners Interrail, the Open Society Foundation, Youth For Public Transport, Debating Europe and to the team and ambassadors, for allowing to develop this tool for young people from young people to bring a strong youth and student message to the institutions in Brussels.”
Luis Alvarado Martínez, President of AEGEE-Europe.

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Join Europe on Track at the EYE 2014 /join-europe-on-track-at-the-eye-2014/ Wed, 07 May 2014 21:45:14 +0000 /?p=5156 Europe on Track”, winner of the 2013 European Charlemagne Youth Prize, invites you to join the presentation of the documentary and the recommendations gathered about young people’s vision of Europe. The event will be moderated by Mrs Katrin Ruhrmann, Director for Information Offices of European Parliament, and Mrs Bettina Leysen, Vice-chairwomen of the Charlemagne Prize Foundation.

Time: Saturday 10th May, 13:30-14:30

Venue: European Parliament Strasbourg, room LOW N1.2

During the first edition of the project, hundreds of young Europeans were engaged in the discussions tackling the most pressing issues our generation is facing: What can young people expect from the Europe of tomorrow?  How can we preserve our present and sustain our future? With the travellers of Europe on Track discussing the focus topics of the project (Youth Participation, Sustainability and Entrepreneurship) in all the 35 cities they had visited, a network of young Europeans was given the chance to speak up and to contribute to progress we all aim to reach in Europe.

Réka Salamon, project coordinator, and Mathieu Soete, ambassador of the 1st edition, will lead the session and review the conclusions of that travel with the youth present at the European Youth Event.

This event also marks the end of Europe on Track 2, during which six new travellers have visited 25 cities in 16 countries – reaching the Baltics, the Balkans and Ukraine- discussing about mobility programmes, youth employment, the European elections, youth participations and europtimism.

In the run-up to the European elections, the event in Strasbourg provides a unique chance for Europe on Track to engage a mixed European crowd into the discussion and getting an insight into how they want to shape the future of Europe, their future.

Which Europe do you want for your future? Join Europe on Track on the last stop of the journey and have your say!

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