Why #thistimeimvoting in the European elections
Ross talks about the importance of voting in the European Elections and why young people should have their voice heard
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The 24th of May 2019 appears to many as just an ordinary day coming up to summer. However, this year, people all across Europe will have the chance to make their voice heard. Hundreds of millions of people in twenty-seven countries will vote on the makeup of the European Parliament . Yet, there is plenty of confusion about these elections. People are questioning what the European Elections are for, who MEPs are and what their roles are, and why we should vote in these European Elections. These are not uncommon questions, and questions that I’ll answer for you to help you gain a clearer understanding of Europe and the elections.
Most importantly, when going to the polling station in Ireland, it’s important to remember we’re not only voting in the European Elections.At the same time, we’ll be voting in the local elections,. These decide who represents your area on the county or city council. There will also be a referendum on reducing the divorce waiting period from four to two years. However, I do believe the European Elections are the most important, yet misunderstood, elections and that many people do not take them seriously enough.
What are the European Elections?
The European Elections on the 24th of May, decide who your Members of the European Parliament (MEP) are for your regional area, being either Dublin, Ireland Midlands North-West or Ireland South. These MEPs have a five-year term, from 2019 until 2024 and vote on laws relating to Europe in either Strasbourg or Brussels. While seen as a retirement home by some, MEPs are more active travelling to and from Brussels or Strasbourg, making laws that affect Ireland and 27 other EU countries, so their roles are incredibly important.
MEPs sit on certain important committees related to their field of interest and are often on more than one committee. For example, they may be a main member of a committee on finance and international development, but also a substitute member of farming, meaning if another MEP cannot be present, they cover the role.
Once Britain leaves the European Union, Ireland will gain two MEPs for these elections, moving from 11 seats to 13. Dublin will become a four-seat constituency while Ireland South will become a five-seat constituency, and Midlands North-West will remain a four seat constituency.
These differ from other elections in that candidates represent both a national party and a European party that transcends their home country. The main parties in the European Parliament are the European People’s Party (EPP), which are the party of Fine Gael; the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats in Europe (ALDE), which are the party of Fianna Fáil; and the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), which are the party of Labour. There are also many other parties which can be found out here, including Independents, called non-inscrits. When heading to Europe, MEPs are expected to vote based off their parties rather than representing their nationality.
The main reason you should vote in the European Elections is that they will decide your future. Youth voting in the European Elections is consistently low, with many young people abstaining despite being the most positive about the EU according to a post-election survey by the European Parliament. The overall percentage of people voting is higher in Ireland than most European countries at 55%, which may be due to people voting for the European Elections and local elections at the same time. Higher voter turnout among young people would show politicians that young people are passionate about politics, as can be seen by the high youth voter turnout in referenda in Ireland on the 8th amendment and Marriage Equality, and more recently the climate strikes on Fridays across the world.
I myself run the This Time I’m Voting campaign in DCU. This is a voter awareness campaign initiated by the European Parliament, which encourages people to vote in the European Elections. The response I have got is incredibly positive. However, the only way I want to measure this success is seeing the number of people voting increase overall in Ireland. I hope to do this by hosting events, such as debates, information presentations and talks, by ensuring people create a social media frenzy by using the hashtag #thistimeimvoting, and by encouraging people to sign up to the campaign using the link below.
If you take away anything from this article, make sure to use your vote or look at Criodan’s article on why voting is so important. It’s your democratic right, it allows you make a change that you want to see in society and gives you the platform to feel pride about the choices you make and to vote on the 24th of May, irrelevant of how you vote.
This Time I’m Voting is a voter awareness apolitical campaign ran by the European Parliament, which aims to encourage people to vote in the European Elections on the 24th of May. For more information on how to register to vote, voting as a non-Irish EU citizen in Ireland and how to join the campaign, use www.thistimeimvoting.eu for more information on the campaign.