European elections: Gen Z doesn’t care about advertising and election posters

European elections: Gen Z doesn’t care about advertising and election posters

This European election will be historic: For the first time, 16-year-olds will be allowed to vote in a nationwide election. But what are they actually voting for? A young journalist explains her generation.

By Livia Kerp

Voting from the age of 16 – this will become a reality for many young Germans for the first time on June 9. In the European elections, 1.4 million young men and women under the age of 18 will also be able to have a say in the parties in the EU Parliament. I think this is great and long overdue: young people are just as much a part of society and are getting involved.

For example, you can join the German army from the age of 17. According to the Federal Ministry of Defense, around 10 percent of those recruited in 2023 were minors. You can start training from the age of 15 and pay income tax. From the age of 14 you are considered criminally responsible. Young people are therefore subject to obligations and rules long before their 18th birthday, which is absolutely right.

European elections: Young people want to vote

But where there are obligations, there should also be rights, such as being able to vote at 16. And many first-time voters want to accept this right. According to the Flash Eurobarometer survey 545 “Youth and Democracy”, a total of 64 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 30 said they wanted to vote. 38 percent said that voting was the most effective way to make their voice heard.

I agree. No demonstration will impress a politician more than the cross in the voting booth. The European elections are more important to my generation than many people think. The pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the Hamas attack on Israel have changed a lot. Above all, it has triggered fears about the future. The importance of a united Europe and the impact of European politics on every single young person have now become much more personal.

One must not forget: for my generation, open borders or the euro as a single European currency are completely normal. My generation has no comparison to the times of the D-Mark. The EU’s Erasmus project is also very important to us. According to the Greenpeace survey from April 2024, the most important European election issues for first-time voters are above all: protecting peace in Europe and thus also ensuring security in Europe. Then there is, of course, climate change, which has always been a concern for my generation.

Young people know more about the AfD than about other parties

That is why reliable and serious information is so important, whether you are young or old. The Greenpeace survey from April 2024 for first-time voters also showed that the European elections are discussed far too rarely in schools. The result is that many young people feel poorly informed about the tasks of the European Parliament. The same picture emerges when it comes to knowledge about the parties. Here, too, a lot is missed in schools.

What is particularly sad is that young people know more about the AfD than about other parties. This is mainly because the media pays the most attention to the AfD. And since schools offer too little in this area, young people have to look for other sources of information.

The various social media platforms are the most important for young people. There are now also formats on Instagram and TikTok that try to quickly inform young users about political content.

The Wahl-O-Mat offers orientation

Most politicians from all parties now have an account on X, Instagram, Facebook or TikTok. But social media alone is not enough to prepare for an election. The reels are too short and therefore too imprecise. Regardless of your age, you should always read up on individual topics in order to form a serious opinion.

Another popular tool is the , which offers orientation, even if the result can be arbitrary. It can happen that one of the very small parties appears at the top of the selection list in your own ranking. According to the Greenpeace survey, the favored parties of first-time voters are mainly the SPD, Union, Greens and FDP. The Left, AfD and the Sahra Wagenknecht alliance are behind them. This survey also confirms my experience.

But smaller parties like Volt, the Animal Protection Party or the Pirates are also popular with young people. Nevertheless, the big parties have an advantage because they are much more present in the public eye. Although I am skeptical as to whether the parties’ TV commercials or the many election posters on the side of the road really have that much influence. At least not in my generation.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how a young person gets informed about political issues. What’s important is whether they feel seen and heard by politics. It will therefore be exciting to see how many of Gen Z actually go to vote. I hope that my generation will turn up in large numbers and really get the pens in the voting booths glowing! That would be the best advertisement for introducing the right to vote from the age of 16 in every federal state. That could have a historic impact on the future of a modern democracy.

I’m going to vote, I hope you do too!

Livia Kerp, 22, works as a video editor in the Bavarian state parliament and is also a freelance journalist. She regularly explains the perspective of Gen Z on stern.de.

Source: Stern

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