The second big multinational event “My Vote” in Austria, was organized online on 26. and 29. November 2021.
The main event theme of the big event in Austria was the state of European Parliament election, particularly in the partner countries. This event was focused on the participation in EU elections. On the positive developments in some EU states, but also on the negative ones in other.
The last 2019 European elections had a relatively high turnout, which was driven by a surge in participation by young people, according to a Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the European Parliament. The results of the post-electoral Eurobarometer survey, one of the most comprehensive quantitative surveys of the last European elections publicly available, show that the turnout increase was powered mostly by the younger generation across the EU. Specifically, young citizens under 25 years (+14 percentage points) as well as the 25–39 year-olds (+12 percentage points) turned out in greater numbers than before. Overall turnout at European elections was 50.6% – the highest since 1994. 19 Member States registered increases in voter turnout since 2014, especially Poland, Romania, Spain, Austria, Hungary and Germany as well as Slovakia and Czechia, where turnout is traditionally very low. Meanwhile turnout is still very low in many countries especially in some of the project partner countries as Slovakia, Czechia, Slovenia and Croatia.
Event theme and their speakers address the state of EU elections through the presentation of different studies, research, best practices, methodologies and practical implementation that made changes that increased voter turnout. The event was attended by different experts and keynote speakers from partner countries, where we organized a discussion panel and brainstorming activity in breakout rooms. The main themes where:
State of Participation in EU elections
Simon Wltavsky, director of Institute TREND-PRIMA, Maribor
Trends in the EU elections turnout in last year and by country. The 2019 European Elections registered a voter participation of 50.6%. This is not only an increase by 8 percentage points compared to 2014, but also the first time voter participation has increased in European Elections since 1979. Examining voter participation on the national scale, we can see some significant increases notably in Poland (+22 pp), Romania (+19 pp), Spain (+17 pp), Austria (+15 pp) and Germany (+13 pp) which contributed to the increase in the EU average. Presentation of the results of the 2019 post electoral survey HAVE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS ENTERED A NEW DIMENSION? Discussion about turnout difference between European and national parliamentary elections, the ‘Euro gap’ and EU-only abstainers. SOE and EM model. The SOE model has become the ‘standard theory of European Parliament elections’, as it consistently contributes to explain electoral outcomes across EU member states. Prominently remarked that many citizens are less interested in (European) SOE because they perceive that ‘there is less at stake’ than in (national). EM model and EU-only abstention. EP elections have become ‘less “second-order national elections” and more truly European contests’ as European integration has become an increasingly important issue in EP elections. In particular, positive attitudes towards European integration and the EU affect the likelihood of taking part in EP elections
Pavel Vitek, ICM Jindrichuv Hradec
How non-formal educational activity can be used to educate about voting, democracy and other political systems. Introductory for a non-formal educational activity called Time & Liberty in its original form as it was conceived by the ICM Jindřichův Hradec in collaboration with Pavel Vítek. The main scope of this activity/game is to raise the awareness of youngsters who are about to attain the voting age or those who just became eligible to vote in their countries. It emphasizes the importance of their newly gained right to vote as it creates in a form of an entertaining role-playing game a contrast between various eras of the history of humankind, where right to vote was an exclusive privilege, the power structure was completely different and almost nobody was granted this right. This activity reflects the transformation of the society and its political systems through time, moreover, the participants/players are themselves directly included in these transformational changes. Therefore, the results of the game might vary a lot, nevertheless, based on our empirical knowledge, there is a certain repeating and common pattern if the main instructions are followed. The role-playing feature makes the experience of the players more immersive and hereby, their learning processes are fostered with efficiency. In other words, the fact that the players can experience these various roles in a societal system through its different phases, i.e. such roles as chieftains, serfs, vassals, kings, early modern period citizens, presidents or members of a parliament, as well as the fact that throughout the game, they can perceive the injustice that springs from despotic and undemocratic decisions, resulting in various negative phenomena such as corruption, is the key element of this activity.
Bouncing off the bottom? Slovakia´s turnout in the EP elections
Oľga Gyárfášová, Comenius University in Bratislava
General patterns of voting in the EP elections, 2019 – turning point, Slovakia as a special case, Slovakia – new politization of the EU agenda. How to counter Euroscepticism? EP election as an odd election due to the fact that the EU executive is not directly affected by the outcome of parliamentary elections in the member countries. This means that EP elections do not initiate a process of government formation as in the parliamentary democracies. Electoral competition is not driven by the European agenda. The national agenda dominates in the electoral campaigns across all member states regardless of how long they have been members. Patterns of voting
The EU elections in Hungary
Máté Deák, Municipality Sopronkövesd
How the EU elections looks like in Hungary? A short history of the EU elections in Hungary. Key factors of voter engagement. According to a survey, 22% of the respondents said that the Brexit encouraged them to participate at the election. The voters participated in the elections because they felt that they participation will contribute to a change. The average proportion of the voters who always used to vote was decreased with 6% compared to the previous election – which means the number of those voters who usually don’t vote was increased significantly. The voter turnout below the 25 years old people was increased with around 14%, while within the 25-39 years people the increase was 12%. About the Hungarian habits, main challenges, which affecting the voters’ choices: the economy and growth; to support the human rights and the democracy; to influence the operation of the EU; the migration.
The importance of connecting focal issues with election priority topics based upon campaign example
Margan Huč, platform Sloga
How to connect focal issues with the target groups to promote the participation in the civil space and the EU elections. Motivational strategies to activate EU citizens to go voting. Also foster a discussion about the important topics and the importance of participation in the electoral process. Importance of knowing what are the main topics that people care about as economy and climate change and addressing them in the campaigning.
How (non-formal) education can improve the active citizenship among youth and motivate people to participate in the election process
Franja Bučar, DRPD NM
Project best practices on how (non-formal) education can improve the active citizenship among youth and motivate people to participate in the election process. Presentation of implemented project and their impact on young people outlook on the EU, improvement in their knowledge about EU and their awareness about the importance of active citizenship. Best practices projects: Old Towns New Results, project objective: fighting against euroscepticism; informing people about the EU; survey about the EU and voting in the European Parliament elections. CIAC: Creativity and Innovation for Active Citizenship, main project goal was to educating youth on active citizenship in formal and non-formal way; use/develop innovative IOs for learning about active citizenship; survey among youths. RESCEU: Escape Room – What would life be without the EU, project overall goal is to foster civic and democratic participation at EU level. Raising citizens’ awareness on EU values and objectives; improving their knowledge on EU; stimulating the debate on the future of Europe; challenging Euroscepticism. Based on the belief that facilitating the emotional involvement of citizens is a crucial aspect of encouraging activism
Experiences of agenda setting at national and European elections, identification of themes during the campaign, etc.,
Robert Križanič, Institute Povod
Practical view of setting up an campaign and addressing the challenges. Tackling the differences between the EU goals and local and national goals in the campaign phase. Problems of not parliamentary parties, lists and initiatives, setting up a great manifesto and goals is easy. Problems arise setting up a campaign and reaching all corners of Slovenia. Problems and discriminatory rules/laws which are facing new parties and grassroot initiatives in reaching political goals. Practical problems which are presents for setting up a grassroot initiative to reach a political goals and achieve a good result on EU or national elections.
E-participation tools to promote the voters turnout at EU elections
Simon Delakorda, Institute Inepa
Importance of e-participation tool improve the voter turnout and improve the state of democracy. Relationship between digital tools and democracy. How different types of democracy use different types of participation tools. What is the nature of e-participation tools to promote voter turnout in the EU elections, also what are the big challenges that digital tools present to us as voters. There where big positive/negative/realist anticipation about e-participation, where are we now?
How to achieve the higher youth turnout in EU elections – examples of the EDSB youth practice?
Iva Perić, Europe House Slavonski Brod
Presentation of different best practices from youth practices projects of EDSB and their impact. Best strategies for education of young people. Presentation of young people outlook on the EU election and their participation, outlook and knowledge. Berries to participation of young people or first time voters in Croatia with focus on municipality Slavonski Brod. How to increase the participation of young people in the civil space and the EU elections. How to create a culture of participation and foster it in EU citizens. Provide capacity building in the areas which they identified as relevant.
This time, I’m voting: Experience from 2019
Tina Obermoser, Europe Direct Graz
Presentation of the experience of the voting campaign (diesmalwaehleich.eu) for the last EU elections. Types of promotion and their effect. Goals of the campaign: Increase turnout in Styria; Raising awareness about the European elections; Promoting the importance of the European Parliament. Target groups: first-time Voters: in Austria as of 16 years of age – pupils and students; Multipliers (companies, mayors and municipal councillors). How was the campaign organized: events for different target groups; EU-competition for pupils and students; through Social Media. Presentation of the What europe does for me portal. Where you can see the impact EU head on individual cities/countries, it includes: EU- Projects; Grants; Regulations and Directives and different results.
Together.eu: New Strategies for 2024
Mag. Katharina Pacher, European Parliament – Liaison Office in Vienna
WHAT do we do the European Parliament Liaison Office in Vienna? European Parliament has liaison offices in all EU Member States. Contact point and information centre. Link between the European Parliament and the citizens. WHAT is together.eu? On June 2019: the European Parliament launched its information campaign together.eu. Continuation of timeiamvoting.eu leading up to the European elections in 2019. EPLO Vienna – support motivated citizens who stand up for the European Union: whether it’s by getting involved in the political process; or helping promote the importance of voting; together, we can help democracy play its rightful part in the European Union; democracy depends on people getting involved, democracy needs civil society commitment.