During the last European parliamentary elections, only 18 percent of the Netherlands’ youngest voters cast their ballot – roughly half the general average. “As young people, we’re already a minority as it is. On top of which far fewer of us cast our vote. Our interests are poorly represented as a result,” says Luce van Kempen. Van Kempen is president of Nationale Jeugdraad (NJR), the Netherlands’ umbrella organisation for national youth associations.
But how to draw young people to the polling station on 23 May? The first step is to shed light on the various political parties and their positions via a dedicated vote compass: the Jongerenkieswijzer (Dutch only). This online voting advice application – launched in 2014 – is an initiative of NJR and the innovation agency IZI Solutions.
After responding to 20 different policy propositions, prospective voters are offered a Top 3 of the parties that align the best with their political views. “The vote compass was made by young people themselves, focusing on the themes most relevant to them,” says Van Kempen. Should companies based in the EU be allowed to trade with countries that violate human rights? Should all EU member states introduce gay marriage? Or should the EU be tougher on the illegal downloading of content for personal use?
After responding to each of the propositions, the user is offered an overview of the different parties’ positions regarding the issues in question. In some cases, most parties see more or less eye to eye – the further expansion of the European exchange programme Erasmus+, for example. The only parties to disagree on that particular point are PVV and Forum voor Democratie.
There’s less agreement when it comes to the issue of unpaid internships. Should the EU take action against this trend? Jobs that used to be handled by paid employees or new hires have been restyled as ‘work experience programmes’ or ‘traineeships’, according to the explanation included with the vote compass. In the view of PVV, VVD, CDA, CU/SGP, Forum and SP, it’s up to individual members states to decide whether this is acceptable. GroenLinks, PvdD, DENK, 50PLUS and PvdA, on the other hand, believe the EU should get involved and promote fair reimbursement guidelines.