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Just 10% of Finland's 18 to 24-year-olds voted in last EU election

Even though young adults in Finland are largely positive about the EU, very few took part in choosing its leaders.

Krista Virtanen.
Krista Virtanen. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

Only about 10 percent of young residents in Finland between the ages of 18-24 voted in the 2014 EU parliamentary elections, according to a survey carried out by polling group TNS.

Nineteen-year-old Fanny Wiik said she doesn't have plans to vote in the next MEP election, which is being held in Finland on Sunday 26 May.

"I'm not a very political person. I like the euro [currency] and that it is easy to travel in Europe," Wiik explained.

Story continues after photo.

Fanny Wiik
Fanny Wiik. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

The overall voter turnout average among that age group across Europe (28%) is also lower than among those in other age brackets, according to the survey.

However, some 66 percent of young voters in neighbouring Sweden took part in the 2014 MEP elections, and even more young Swedes are expected to take part this year. In Italy and Germany the proportions of younger voters going to the polls were 45 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

Election fatigue?

Like Wiik, 24-year-old Krista Virtanen said she also has a positive view towards Finland's membership in the bloc. People around her age across the EU generally have similar views, but also belong to an age demographic which votes the least.

"Maybe things are so good for us that we haven't given much thought about voting," Virtanen pondered.

Virtanen said she plans to vote later this month, but suspects that many others might be suffering from election fatigue. Last month Finland went to the polls in a nail-biting general election.

Story continues after photo.

Emma Hirvonen
Emma Hirvonen. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

University of Helsinki politics researcher Timo Miettinen said young voters may not see much controversy in EU politics, a factor which may be keeping them away from the polls. He said issues that are important to this age group include free movement around the bloc, the EU-based student exchange programme Erasmus and the block's common currency, for example.

Relevant issues need to be raised

Miettinen said he thinks that young people might get more engaged in European elections if such issues were included more into the overall political discussion in the country. He said the EU addresses issues that are important to young and old alike, including ones like social insurance policy and combating climate change.

"When you go to study or work in another [EU] country, under what kinds of conditions are you entitled to social security there? These are things that are decided by the EU [parliament] and include major conflicts and differing views," he explained.

Twenty-one-year-old Emma Hirvonen said she's still not sure who to vote for, but said the key issue for her is the environment.

"Environmental issues are perhaps the most important to me, and then security," she said.

The European Parliament election is held in all EU member states between 23-26 May, and in Finland on Sunday 26 May. Advance voting is available for European citizens in Finland 15-21 May and for Finns abroad 15-18 May. Finns abroad may also now vote by mail-in absentee ballot.

Voters from Finland can try Yle’s election compass to help them find candidates who reflect their political ideals.

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