This summer, during the warmest days of the year, while millions of young Europeans are partying hard at the beach holding colorful cocktails, some others, less tanned, are holding switched on microphones instead. They are called young politicians.
Their friends are asking them why they choose this instead of relaxing. Instead of tagging their feet in front of blue waves, they’re instagramming teams of talented teenagers in blue t-shirts training themselves to become better debaters. Why? There is no answer to that question. Being active in student and youth politics for 9 years on, I can say with certainty that you only get your answer when you are part of it.
The last 2 months I’ve taken part in events organized by YEPP members in almost every European country. In Norway, Austria, Germany and Luxembourg they are getting ready for national elections in September and October. In Portugal and Estonia they are preparing for local ones in the same months. In Greece, Hungary, Finland and Cyprus new youth leaderships are elected and ready to join the YEPP family while Swedes, Belgians, Lithuanians and Irish are organizing summer schools and summer debates. In Italy, Serbia and Latvia they are building new youth organizations to cope with the current political challenges.
I saw with my own eyes, a generation of young Europeans that makes youth politics more beautiful. I felt goosebumps on my arm, when I heard a speech from Unge Høyre’ leader, Paul Joakim Sandøy in a language I don’t understand. I heard the voices of 15 year-olds learning how to debate, wanting to convince their trainer and their friends that they believe more than anyone else in an idea. It’s a magic feeling.
Yes, we are missing out on a lot of stressless moments by choosing to spend our time in youth organizations. Yes, sometimes we get sick of things we dislike and disapprove of in partisan politics. Yes, it is hard to go speak to friends, to colleagues, to society about voting and about belonging to a political movement. No, we do not regret it. Because we are proud and confident about our choice. And this choice is not to stand still and whine about the problems of the youth in Europe.
Our choice is youth politics.