Supporters point out that the early integration of young people in the political process leads to heightened political interest and knowledge. In the long run, this should have a positive effect on general voter turnout as well as in the representation of the interests of young people. Both factors are considered essential to a properly functioning democracy. On the other hand, critics warn that toyear olds are not mature enough to take politically informed and well-considered decisions. In the voting-age in Austria was lowered from 18 to 16 years in the course of a broader reform of the electoral law.
Since then, at the age of 16 youngsters are allowed to vote in general, municipal, federal and presidential elections as well as in the elections to the European Parliament. Malta is the only other country to have lowered the general voting age to 16, and that only recently. More than 10 years after the change it is time to take stock.
And what conclusions can be drawn for other EU countries? Given the existing trends favouring a break-up in Europe, the debate about the direction of EU integration is becoming increasingly important. This could be an interesting topic to discuss at the forthcoming Austrian EU Council Presidency starting on 1 July This corresponds to the average voter turnout and indicates a positive starting effect.
Furthermore, the political interest of first-time voters was also significantly lower than that of older voting groups. Both their political interest and their voter participation had declined. Whereas in only a quarter of first-time and young voters defined themselves as very or quite interested in politics, the figure more than doubled ahead of the general election in and their likelihood of voting also increases.
One correlation seems obvious: voter participation of youngsters depends very much on their interest in politics. The more they are interested in politics, the more likely they are to vote.
Nearly nine out of every 10 youngsters who defined themselves as very or quite interested in politics had the intention of casting a vote in the Austrian general election of Austrian youngsters also identify fairly strongly with the EU. The younger the respondent, the stronger the identification with Europe.
Despite their pro-European attitude, youngsters are more interested in national politics than in developments at the European level. Generally, a high level of knowledge of the EU correlates with a positive attitude towards European integration. The youth surveys of the Austrian Society for European Politics reach similar conclusions: the highest rate of EU scepticism can be found among pupils in vocational schools, who are already in first-time jobs.
The younger the respondents the stronger their pro-European attitude.
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On the other hand, their interest in European politics, as well as their level of knowledge about the EU, seems quite low. The EU is seen to be remote and complicated.
The electoral analysis of the Brexit referendum also shows that approval of the EU drops with increasing age. Ten years after the reform of the election law in Austria, the aim of a continuously high voter participation of Austrian youngsters has not yet been fully achieved. The turnout of first-time and young voters is subject to fluctuations depending on different factors. Nevertheless, the data of the current Flash Eurobarometer European Youth suggest the beginning of a positive trend.
Alongside Italy, Austria is ranked first in the turnout of young people aged 15 to In the medium-to-long terms it is likely to lead to an increase in the general turnout. In order to foster this trend, permanent curricular and extra-curricular accompanying measures and the provision of information could be of help.
In addition, educational establishments, political decision-makers and the media should develop a long-term strategy to permanently integrate young people into the political process. The introduction of political education as a specific subject for all school types together with an adequate apprenticeship and in-service training for teachers in this field has long been recommended and should accompany these changes. Since the younger generation is on average more pro-European than the older one it would be beneficial for the cohesion of the EU if young people were to be integrated into the political process at an already early stage.
Their positive attitude towards the EU should not be interpreted as naivety resulting from ignorance, but rather as juvenile enthusiasm. Educational establishments would be particularly well advised to close the information gap by providing adequate European political education.
The intuitive pro-European attitude of the coming generations is an asset to enable well-informed and much-demanded debate about the direction of European integration. Voting at 16 together with the necessary supporting measures could be introduced in other EU member states as well. Austria would be well placed to initiate a dialogue on this topic in the context of its upcoming EU Council Presidency.
Yet it is also the quality of information that matters. Log out of Readcube. Click on an option below to access. Log out of ReadCube. This paper reviews current evidence on the declining political engagement of British youth. What emerges is that causes of their political disaffection are manifold and complex, but trust, distrust and cynicism feature strongly.
Young People’s Voting Behaviour in Europe
Traditional approaches to trust and distrust fail to recognise this complexity; consequently this paper offers a more sophisticated conceptual framework that examines trust and distrust as separate but linked dimensions, as advocated by Lewicki, McAllister and Bies. By segmenting voters in this way, marketers can design strategies to help increase young people's trust and reduce their distrust, thereby increasing their propensity to vote in future elections. Volume 9 , Issue 3. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account.
If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Janine Dermody Corresponding Author E-mail address: jdermody glos. Search for more papers by this author. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article.
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