EU Elections 2019: a view from young people in the Netherlands

  • More young people than ever turn out for the EU vote
  • Fears over 'Nexit' but exit polls show a swing to remainers
  • Young people say green issues are a major concern for their generation

The European Elections are underway and over the next few days, citizens of the 28 EU member states will vote to elect members of the European Parliament.

In the same way the UK Parliament is a check on the UK government, the European Parliament acts as a check on the European Commission who create legislation that affects all member states.

Voting will be taking finish on Sunday with many of the current 28 EU states electing to hold votes on separate days.  The UK and Netherlands were the first to take to the polling booths to cast their votes despite an uncertain future for the UK as a member state and Theresa May’s resignation announcement.

In the Netherlands, as in the UK, voting figures are historically lower in European elections compared to national ones. However, with surveys suggesting a rise in nationalism across Europe and prominent far-right politician Thierry Baudet proposing a Dutch exit from the European Union or ‘Nexit’, it seems that the EU elections could be more impactful than many believe.

Students from Hogeschool Utrecht were able to cast their votes on university campus.

It’s clear that for them, environmental issues are an important factor in how they voted. Progressiveness is important for Sammie Vries, who said “I voted for the Groen Links (Green Lefts) because they are positive and pro-environment and they’re progressive. They’re also pro-EU!”

While the environment has been a key topic of debate in the elections, other students were more concerned about policies that affected them personally.

Menen-Claire Seijkens said that because students receive loans and travel is free for them, it meant that when politicians plan to remove these benefits it’s important to vote. But she believes that voting will be split generationally.

“It’s different for older people because they’re working and their lives aren’t dependent on how much they earn,” she said.

As the current youth of the country, Sanne van Amersfoort expressed her concern for the future of the Netherlands and the European Union as a whole.

“It’s good to have the EU as a union and to keep it that way because it’s safer for all of the countries to be together as one and to help each other”, adding that travel from is easy at the moment, but following ‘Brexit’ it will become much more difficult.

Whilseexit polls in the Netherlands indicate that the Dutch Labor Party appears to the upper hand and the public have rejected the spread of nationalism, the final results will ont be revealed until after the last polling station has closed in Italy.

It remains to be seen how well the newly elected MEPs will fair over the next five years, but with EU membership still a trigger point issue across Europe, the future strength of the European Union will likely continue to be tested.