This Discussion Paper puts together relevant data on the inclusion of young people and women in European Parliament elections.

It is focused on two pitfalls of EU electoral democracy: voter absenteeism on the part of young people, and the under-representation of women in the European Parliament. Data have been combined from the European Election Studies (EES), the European Parliament, the Gender Statistics Database of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), face-to-face and telephone interviews, and semi-structured questionnaires. Additionally, policy papers and other relevant texts (authored by organizations dedicated to young people, women and think tanks, as well as Europarties and groups in the European Parliament) have been considered. The scope of the paper is European, although data at a national level from France, Poland and Spain (a founding EU country, an Eastern European country and a Southern European country) are introduced in different sections to shed light on national differences. With the purpose of enriching and making EU electoral democracy stronger, the author presents, as food for thought, some evidence on key elements to foster participation in European Parliament elections, as well as to reach a more balanced composition of the European Parliament in terms of age and gender.


Publication date
17 May 2019
Cristina Ares
Number of pages




Executive summary

1. Introduction

2. Voter absenteeism by young people and women

3. Under-representation of young people and women in the European Parliament

4. Are parties aware of the interests of young people and women?

5. What do we know about how to foster electoral participation?

6. What else can be done to obtain a more inclusive EU electoral democracy?

7. Conclusion


Further material

Annex A. General topics covered in the semi-structured interviews and questionnaires

Annex B. National parties and political groups in the European Parliament (2014–2019)

Annex C. Programmatic statements by the Europarties on women and gender equality

About the author

About International IDEA

Give us feedback

Do you have a question or feedback about this publication? Leave us your feedback, and we’ll get back to you

Send feedback

Engaging Young People and Women in European Parliament Elections

Total views 6780
Downloads 32
Close tooltip