Title

European Youth: Jockeys in Eurosceptic Dark Horse Politics?

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

“Eurosceptic” or anti-European Union (EU) political parties are notably gaining traction in EU elections across the political bloc. The continued importance of the Eurosceptic phenomenon was most recently evidenced in the pan-EU elections of May 2014, when parties like the UK Independence Party and France’s Front National gained scores of seats – and, therefore, influence – in the European Parliament (EP). This trend is disturbing to pro-EU politicians and Europhiles alike. Based on my review of existing literature, however, there is a notable lack of research into the role of youth voters in electing these political parties. In this paper, I draw on extensive EP post-election survey data to analyze trends among young voters – aged 18-24 – in eight EU member states between 1994 and 2014. I then compare unemployment statistics for people under age 25 in the four fiscal quarters prior to and including each election to the observed voting trends in the eight states in an attempt to explain the potential rise in popularity of Eurosceptic parties among young voters. Given the stagnant European recovery from the 2009 global financial crisis, coming-of-age voters may take a more anti-establishment approach to future European elections in order to voice their discontent with EU policies at the ballot box. Recognizing these trends is important for European political scholars and policymakers that would like to see the role of Eurosceptic parties diminished.

Category

Social Sciences

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European Youth: Jockeys in Eurosceptic Dark Horse Politics?

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“Eurosceptic” or anti-European Union (EU) political parties are notably gaining traction in EU elections across the political bloc. The continued importance of the Eurosceptic phenomenon was most recently evidenced in the pan-EU elections of May 2014, when parties like the UK Independence Party and France’s Front National gained scores of seats – and, therefore, influence – in the European Parliament (EP). This trend is disturbing to pro-EU politicians and Europhiles alike. Based on my review of existing literature, however, there is a notable lack of research into the role of youth voters in electing these political parties. In this paper, I draw on extensive EP post-election survey data to analyze trends among young voters – aged 18-24 – in eight EU member states between 1994 and 2014. I then compare unemployment statistics for people under age 25 in the four fiscal quarters prior to and including each election to the observed voting trends in the eight states in an attempt to explain the potential rise in popularity of Eurosceptic parties among young voters. Given the stagnant European recovery from the 2009 global financial crisis, coming-of-age voters may take a more anti-establishment approach to future European elections in order to voice their discontent with EU policies at the ballot box. Recognizing these trends is important for European political scholars and policymakers that would like to see the role of Eurosceptic parties diminished.