Ideas and Practices to Boost Youth Participation Before Elections

Year of production: 2024

CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2023– Source: EP

With the European Parliament elections taking place from 6–9 June 2024, it’s time to explore some practical ways to encourage young people to have discussions, participate, and voice their needs and opinions.

This article can come in handy during other periods of time, too – whenever you are looking for ideas for new projects or searching for good tools to improve your understanding of youth participation, the European Union and elections. In the most positive sense, feel free to ‘steal’ some of these ideas, methods or approaches and use them in your work!

The European Youth Card Association has created a campaign with useful resources designed to foster political participation among first-time voters in the EU elections. Morein2024 features an informative campaign website, an Instagram account and at least 100 events across Europe.

The campaign aims to engage first-time voters aged 16 to 22 in 17 European Union countries and is a collaboration of 50 changemakers. Through the events and information, young people can gain insight into the political process and build connections with candidates.

The campaign materials serve as additional resources where relevant content and information about the EU and elections are presented in a youth-friendly way. You will find content specific to each EU member state, too!

Take a virtual tour of the Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg, meet members of the European Parliament and better understand the work at the heart of European democracy. Digital Journey to the European Parliament is a fun way to follow in the footsteps of a Member of the European Parliament and learn more about European democracy through games. The 360° tours and explainers are available in all 24 official languages of the European Union.

Players can take a seat in the European Parliament and experience the decision-making process directly from their classroom or community through this online game. They will debate, negotiate, compromise and vote on a law proposal to improve the lives of citizens across the European Union.

In around 60 minutes, players will be able to learn about European democracy in an immersive and interactive way, all while collaborating closely and improving their public speaking and diplomatic skills.

A facilitator’s guide is also available, including complementary educational material and preparatory activities to enrich the experience. Both the game and the guide are free and available in 24 languages!

The website is a pan-European community that encourages everybody to participate in democracy. The site includes training materials and resources that can be used in social media campaigns, printed out for events, etc. Make them your own in a training setting or use these materials with young people to encourage more people to make their voices heard.

The toolkit is created for those with a challenge and the responsibility of coordinating strategic action to raise the awareness of young voters. It provides recommendations, case studies and inspirational practices. The toolkit explores both formal and non-formal education opportunities. The topics covered take you from planning to execution, giving an overview and practical tips on how to set the right objectives, select suitable methods, use Public Communications and Marketing, etc.

Getting the basics right – how does the European Union work?

Never old and always relevant, knowing how the European Union institutions work is a basis for democratic participation, no matter your age. Here are some of our suggested materials:

What can you do?

  • Use these materials in your work with young people to raise their awareness about the European Union, youth participation in democratic life, elections and active citizenship.
  • Plan your next Erasmus+ or European Solidarity Corps projects and make it all about youth participation – connected to elections or not, youth participation in democratic life is one of the horizontal priorities of Erasmus+. EU youth programmes are designed to empower young people through formal and non-formal education. If you want guidance or have questions, contact your National Agency for support (find contacts here).
  • Check out the Flagship Projects Collection for ideas and best practices! Running out of ideas or simply looking for a few more? Borrow some of the best practices from amazing Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps projects. You can use the filter to find projects based on a topic, funder or country.
  • Go big like the YEEEs24 project in Greece! Looking for ambition and a big scale? YEEEs24 is a project involving thousands of young people and a huge range of actions, starting from school and university visits to well-targeted coverage in media channels. The project also includes the creation of a podcast and a social media campaign with a focus on human-centred storytelling connected to participating in the elections. Get in touch with the project team to explore how to learn from them or cooperate in the future.

A little bonus track – projects and methods shared with SALTO PI

SALTO Participation and Information Resource Centre (SALTO PI) made an open call in 2023 to learn what youth field actors are doing in order to encourage youth participation in elections. Not all actions have to be big-scale campaigns to have an impact on young people. Here are some of the suggested practices:

  • Learn debating! For example, the ‘Youth in the Eyes of Youth and Young Voters’ promoted by the Fondazione Toscana Sostenibile as part of the EU4YOUTH2ACT project focused on debate as a good method for developing participants’ discussion and critical thinking skills as well as their argumentation and public speaking skills. This is a great way to give young people the skills and confidence to speak up.
  • Create posters and videos! Another effective yet simple way is to combine media creation skills with the topic of elections – Colegiul Mihai Viteazul Ineu, a school in Romania, created posters on voting together with pupils, using Canva (see the posters here). A youth exchange ‘Vote for Europe’ brought together 42 young people from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Spain and Slovakia for a youth exchange where young people created videos together. Read the testimonials of participants on the Facebook page here.
  • Do research and learn about relevant studies. Whether you are planning an awareness campaign, youth exchange or training event, being up to date with research about youth participation in elections is essential. One of the examples recommended to SALTO PI was an article: ‘The Potential of Youth Activism in Promoting Dialogue on Climate Crisis in Poland and Germany’, which was created as part of the ‘EU24 Engage for the Planet’ project. Beyond statistics, the article highlights the urgency of the climate crisis, a challenge that knows no borders, and explores how European youth are breaking down national divides, illustrating the catalytic power of dialogue.
  • The Participation Resource Pool also features studies and research on youth participation that you might want to check out. Don’t forget to follow the work of the RAY Network – a research-based analysis and monitoring of European youth programmes.
  • For those who are hungry for more. SALTO PI recently published a poster and guidelines that can be used in various settings with young people when discussing participation in democratic life (elections and beyond). Read it here!



Meelika Hirmo

Meelika Hirmo is a Communications expert who is currently working at Citizen OS promoting digital participation worldwide. The topics of democratic participation, environment, media and information literacy and culture are very close to her heart. She has campaigned for lowering the voting age in Estonia, coordinated international events, led the communication of the international civic movement World Cleanup Day, and is eager to put her skills into practice to create a positive social change.