Why vote in European elections? The candidates respond:

With elections just a few weeks away, some students may wonder; should I vote?

Some might think that these European elections, happening in the UK on the 22nd May, are not important, surely my vote doesn’t matter.  This thought is shown in statistics, as European elections have a much lower turnout than other elections.  High turnout is essential in order to get a democratic representation in Europe.

There are many reasons why people should vote, but many of these seem as if they do not affect us, students.  Politics, it seems, is not aimed at students, and many believe that if they don’t have an interest in politics then they should not bother to vote.  However this is not the case, and you don’t need an interest in politics to vote, just an interest in how you live your life.

As students, having an interest in the work the European Parliament do is essential.  All language students, you are free to go abroad for a year in order to gain experience without having to worry about a visa.  Here in Cardiff University, about 1, 500 students have benefited from the Erasmus exchange program in recent years, a number which would be substantially reduced without the work of our MEPs.

I caught up with current MEP for Labour, Derek Vaughan, who is also seeking a second term in office.  He says that ‘Welsh Universities have received around £100m in European research and innovation funding since 2007’ and so ‘it’s vitally important that students make that choice and vote on the 22nd in order to make sure that the rights that you’re used to are protected.’

I also contacted Plaid Cymru MEP, Jill Evans, who sees ‘Wales’s future firmly within Europe, helping to build our economy and create jobs’.  The new Erasmus+ scheme and the fact that ‘80% of Welsh farmers depend on the EU’ are two clear indications why the EU Parliament is important.  This is not a time to decide which party can change laws at Westminster, but rather to decide which party will work well within the European parliament to make a positive difference to our lives.  As an influential member within the EU as President of EFA and a member of many EU committees, she believes that ‘Young people in Wales should vote in the European elections to ensure that their interests are protected.’

If you’re thinking about a gap year or even summer travel, having your choice of MEP in parliament can make a difference.  In April, MEPs passed a law scrapping roaming charges within the EU, making that phone call home so much easier as well as cheaper.

We must remember, this is not a vote whether to stay in the European Union or not, this is a vote which sees which party will represent you in Brussels, to work with political parties from all of the 28 countries in the EU, to bring the change that the Welsh government or the Senedd can not enforce.

To conclude, I hope I have made my point clear on why we should vote, as Cardiff students in this May’s election- Thursday 22nd May.  Whether you vote or not is up to you, but I know that as well as millions of others from all over Europe, I will be voting on Thursday.

Carwyn Williams