Democracy Minister Birgitta Ohlsson said on Tuesday that the government is encouraging Swedish high schools to hold mock European elections to encourage voter turnout in future elections.
“It’s a tradition in Sweden that schools arrange elections when we have parliamentary elections, we do think that’s good and it’s good way to encourage young people to go vote in real elections,” Ohlsson told The Local.
“Now we’re going to extend that to European elections.”
Ohlsson, who also has European affairs in her ministerial brief, said Swedish voter turnout was appalling in European elections.
“It’s far too low. It’s about 45 percent,” she said, adding that she hoped to get at least half of Swedish voters to the ballots box for the European parliament elections.
“It would be a good initiative to push the schools to prepare the kids for European elections.”
She said that having four elections in the upcoming year gave Swedes the opportunity to shore up their democratic participation, as European elections in May are followed by parliamentary, municipal and county elections at home in September.
“We should work a lot with democracy issues, this year gives us a great opportunity,” Ohlsson said, adding that lacklustre engagement in European elections was a phenomenon not exclusive to Sweden.
“We see that trend in most European countries. Sometimes it has to do with the distance to Brussels, but there is also a lack of debate about European issues and we need to work at that.”