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Alternative ways of participation

EU28 poll shows that only 46% of youth are voting on the local level and even less on national (43%) and regional (37%). For example, only 34% of young people in the UK voted in the EU referendum. Most common reasons for “not voting” are: youth people think they can’t make a change with their votes; they are not sufficiently informed to vote or the purpose of voting doesn’t address their daily problem; sometimes they just don’t bother themselves with it. Recent evidences show that young people from 18 to 24 are not active in voting but still remain highly engaged in politics, though. How is that possible? Although voting is a direct form of participation and remains one of the most essential one, there are several alternative ways to participate and to be heard. You probably already know some of them:


- Signing the petitions;
- Protests and demonstrations;
- Participation 2.0 (online petitions, awareness-raising campaigns and so on).
Even symbolic non-participation can be recognised as participation (for example, calls to leave ballots blank, which were quite popular in several countries).

These alternative ways of participation can be seen as a platform for fostering active citizenship. For example, successfully implemented petition or achieved aim of the campaign can not only attract the government’s attention to a problem that concerns youth. But also show them the power of the democracy and bring the sense of responsibility for the future of youth.

And even activities that at the first sight don’t seem to have much impact on policy-making can cause the common understanding on how to be a responsible citizen of your country. Examples could be:

- Volunteering in NGOs and local communities;
- Participation in sport, environmental and cultural campaigns;

Volunteering in homeless shelter, organising a documentary screening about climate change or participation in a city cleaning campaign won’t solve political problems, probably; but can empower young people to see that they can actually make a change with their actions. So what if, instead of focusing on why young people are not voting, we give them the chance to express their position by alternative participation? Probably observation of positive (even small) changes will give them a feeling that they are a part of the community and can decide in what society they want to live tomorrow. More likely, the next step for a young person would be to make a change in a political field by voting and donating their time to a political campaign.


Diana Podgurskaia



Infographic retrieved from