“I Vote for Europe’: Bulgarian Youth Votes in the European Elections 2009”


The primary objective of the project was to encourage the participation of young people, aged 18-25, in the elections for the European Parliament in 2009, by developing new models and channels of communication between youth groups and political parties/candidates and new models for voters’ mobilisation in the run-up to the elections. The coalition of four NGOs, created for the implementation of the project, worked to engage young people in the elections, providing them with non-partisan information about key issues shaping the candidates’ platforms.

Project Summary

The primary objective of the project was to encourage the participation of young people, aged 18-25, in the elections for the European Parliament in 2009, by developing new models and channels of communication between youth groups and political parties/candidates and new models for voters’ mobilisation in the run-up to the elections. The coalition of four NGOs, created for the implementation of the project, worked to engage young people in the elections, providing them with non-partisan information about key issues shaping the candidates’ platforms. All of the project activities followed the principles of participatory democracy, focusing upon ways that have become main venues of free exchange of information, ideas, and debates for young people. The project used the format of a political Facebook-community, through a website with blogs and discussion fora to encourage direct participation of young people in debates and online meetings with EP candidates. The main result of the information campaign was a greater voter activity on the Election Day and a larger turn-out compared to the 2007 elections. Project activities also contributed to fostering a stronger sense of European citizenship among young people in Bulgaria, as the newest member of the EU.

Target group

Young people 18-25 years old: college students, working youth, first-time voters, Roma youth.

Implementation period:

Feb. 1-July 31, 2009

Project Objectives

  • Mobilizing young people’s participation in the 2009 EP elections, in particular, young women and young people from minority groups
  • Increasing the turnout in the elections, esp. of first-time voters in Roma communities
  • Improving the access to information and introducing new models for active participation of young people in the European political life by utilizing the full capacity of modern ICT (internet, online discussion fora, blogs, YouTube, TV, SMS messaging)
  • Providing quality non-partisan information about the election system and issues on the ballot to the target group, through cooperation with the information offices of the EP in the country
  • Facilitating a process of civilized communication and debate between candidates and young voters
  • Promoting young people’s active European citizenship and European cooperation and participation in the political process.

Main activities

The main activities of the Project were focused on information and awareness-raising activities and voter mobilization activities, as:

  • Development of a website with blogs, discussion fora, and chats corner for on-line communication with the candidates for the EP
  • Development of leaflets and information materials about the EP and EP election system, sending sms-es and emails for mobilizing potential voters
  • Debatathon” [Debate Marathon] – a series of debates on issues on the ballot, organized in different towns in the country, which were recorded and broadcasted via Re:TV
  • Preparation and publication of a working paper, evaluating project activities and analyzing the attitudes of young voters.

Partners

Women’s Alliance for Development (WAD)

Association “Diverse and Equal”

RE:TV

Funding

The Project was financed through the Youth in Action Program, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Agency

Results:

· Increased voters’ turnout during the elections in 2009, compared with 2007

· Creation of new mechanisms for involving youth in the debate for common European future

· Raising awareness about solidarity in the EU among young people, in terms of increasing their influence on EU policies

· Establishing a network of organizations and youth groups that will continue to work together in the field of youth problems and policies.

Project participants

Youth organizations, student organizations, Roma communities, women’s organizations

Project status

Completed


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