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The gap between young Europeans and politics: narrowing, growing or just changing?

Last year, los Indignados gathered en masse in Madrid and other cities to express their fury at politicians in debt-ridden Spain for pursuing austerity measures at a time of mass unemployment. The movement quickly spread to other major cities and financial centres. With the economic crisis being far from over and continued implementation of stark austerity programmes across the EU, political contestation can only be expected to increase in Europe.

Enraged by the haplessness and incapacity of political leaders and global economic institutions to stave off catastrophe, many young people are taking to the streets to express their frustration with austerity plans, job insecurity and rising social costs. But their criticism goes even further. They are questioning the functioning of traditional bodies of political and economic power and denouncing their lack of transparency. Many call for a more direct, participatory democracy that would empower people. They want to wrest back control of their destinies from an out-of-touch elite and governments.

Against this background, the Ideas Factory organised a debate with other young thinkers on ‘The gap between young European and politics: narrowing, growing or just changing?’ on Monday 5 March from 17.45 to 20.00 at the Résidence Palace. The discussion was kicked off by Emilie Turunen, MEP and Ben Borges, Member of the Indignados Movement.

Questions such as those below were discussed:

· Are young Europeans becoming disillusioned with politics and politicians?

· What would be your message to national and European policy-makers in the middle of this crisis?

· Do you trust that the political leaders can meet the needs of young Europeans?

· To what extent and how effectively can social media and social movements promote more participatory democracy and contribute to better-functioning societies?

· What are the best ways to engage young people in European politics and get their voice heard?



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