Starting today, Europeans will be heading to the polls to vote for their next European Parliament. Whether you support the idea of being part of the European Union (EU) or not, the results of the election will have a big impact on you, and the rest of the world.
The EU is one of the biggest aid donors, and this money provides vital, life saving support for some of the world’s poorest people. It also funds long term sustainable projects that help lift millions out of poverty for good.
We know that voting might not be a high priority for you, so we asked three ONE Youth Ambassadors what they think. They might just change your mind.
Sasaeniapaul Oluwabunmi, East of England
What’s voting got to do with making the world a better place? Absolutely everything.
“I turned 24 last month and my first voting experience will be the EU elections this week. I’m looking forward to participating actively in European democracy. It’s a chance to take part in an important election that will determine who leads the EU – who also happen to be one of the world’s biggest aid donors.
I used to believe that voting had absolutely nothing to do with improving people’s lives or building a better world for everyone. I told myself this over and over again and I never voted for anybody or anything. I was simply not interested.
When I started talking to others my age, who wanted to change the world they lived in too, I realised that even with the ‘finest’ of visions and the most ‘enthralling’ of plans, someone’s got to make those visions into reality. Without collective decision making, it’s not possible to end world hunger.
So I’ve changed my mind. Voting has everything to do with making the world a better place.”
Siobhan Palmer, East of England
Politicians are often accused of forgetting young people. That’s why it’s important that we vote, to remind them who they are representing.
“I remember the general election in the UK in 2010. I really wanted to vote. I even asked friends who I knew weren’t going to vote if I could do it for them – ‘just send for a postal vote! Please? I don’t have my own’. But all I could do was sit and watch the results roll in.
The European Elections are my first opportunity to take part in a nationwide vote and I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s important for me, as a young person to use my voice for issues that matter for me.
Politicians rarely vie for young people’s votes with vigour. But if they did, wouldn’t more people, like me, feel empowered? Why shouldn’t young people always be a key demographic for politicians?
Let’s show them we do care about issues. I’ve got reasons I’ll be voting this week – especially around support for the ONE Vote 2014 pledge to end extreme poverty. Get out and use your vote.”
Oliver Templeman, South West England
We vote because we want to be involved in the debate. We want our opinions to count, to matter!
“Is it important to vote? If you fail to turn up to the election, parliament will continue to run. It won’t come crashing down. Neither will it magically turn into the government that you want to see. That all depends on you.
The problem starts when you disagree with the Government, a particular party, or the way politics is done to such an extent you decide not to be involved in the debate. You decide to keep quiet, to give up. However, if you give politics the silent treatment, how can you expect them to hear your voice, or to know what you want?
Democracy is empowering, and we’re using it to make change. It’s meant we can say yes to all groups in society having the vote. (Remember there was a time when women couldn’t vote?) And just last week, Conchita, a bearded man in a dress, voted the winner of Eurovision was truly Europe’s choice. This change starts when people collectively make a choice – or vote.
Voting gives a foot into the discussion. Don’t waste it. Contact your local politicians, sign petitions, tweet policy makers. Go to town! Failing to vote is in effect admitting defeat. It can be a long battle getting policy makers to listen to you, but if you give up before the battle even starts, how can we hope to change anything?”
Find out which MEP candidates have signed the ONE Vote 2014 pledge, committing to keep their promises in the fight against extreme poverty.
Then get out there and vote!