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Madalena do Pico ,  May 06, 2009


Government appeals to youngsters’ participation in the European elections

An appeal to the youngster’s participation in the forthcoming European elections and the reasons that should motivate each person to exercise an active citizenship in the context of the European Union were the subject of the meeting between the Regional Secretary for the Presidency and the youngsters from Pico Island.
At the round table for discussing European issues, which was included in the Government´s visit to Pico, André Bradford appealed to the two dozens of youngsters that were attending the debate to engage in policy and in the European decisions, through their vote in June 7.
The debate took place in a more informal context, which led to an open and widely participated conversation about European elections and youngsters’ civic participation.
With regard to the European elections, the Regional Secretary deplored the decrease in the number of voters in the polls, saying that political participation has been generally decreasing throughout Europe, particularly in Portugal, and even more in the Azores.
“When citizens have the right to vote and they do not exercise their right on the election day, this can only mean that something is wrong,” underlined the Secretary. In addition, he mentioned the high abstention rate of the last European elections, in which only 31% per cent of the Portuguese population voted.
André Bradford said that these numbers have different interpretations, one of which might be linked to the geographical distance of the European decision-making centres, “the more distant the political institution for which we are voting is, the less desire to vote.” The Secretary compared these to the local elections, which generally make more sense for Azorean voters due to the geographical proximity factor, with the elections for the European Parliament.
Nevertheless, André Bradford added that “this is not a correct attitude, and this is one of the messages that I want to leave you, because everything that happens in the Azores is previously defined by the policies implemented in Brussels, and this is valid for all political areas, such as agriculture.”
The general support rules, incentive schemes, among others, are measures which we are stipulated in Brussels. As a result of that, the Secretary said that it is important for the Azores to be represented at the European political institutions, with “members of parliament who know the Azores, who understand the Azorean reality, who are acquainted with the Azores’s problems and who may defend the Azorean cause at the European Parliament, and if we do not have that voice, we will all lose,” said the Secretary.
The Regional Secretary explained to the youngsters that, as it happens in other European countries, Portugal will lose MPs at the European Parliament as a result of the restructuring of this decision-making entity, with 27 represented countries.
Concerning the current universe composed by 732 European MPs, only two are from the Azores, so “it is natural that they do not have a great power of influence in all decision-making centres, even Portugal is not a country with a great influence over decisions, but the Azorean/Portuguese MPs will have much more political capital if they are elected with a significant voting,” said the Regional Secretary for the Presidency.
Furthermore, the Secretary mentioned that being elected with the votes of 70% of the population is quite different from being elected with the votes of only 30% of the National citizens. According to André Bradford, “this eradicates the credibility and legitimacy of whoever is elected with only 30% per cent of the votes. Thus, this is another reason why I consider important that people should participate in this election.”
European policies concerning youth were another issue that André Bradford mentioned at the round table.
Hence, the Secretary mentioned youth and student mobility and interchange as one of the most relevant mechanisms of European influence in the Azores, saying that EU has a general influence concerning education policy at different teaching levels, with advantageous access opportunities to training scholarships, allowing youngsters a free and varied choice.
André Bradford also clarified youngsters from Pico Island that voting in the forthcoming European elections not only demonstrates the proactivity of Azorean youngsters regarding the fate of European sovereignty bodies, but also the interest and civic commitment that all should express towards the main entity of European policy.
The European Union, due to the geographical distance and the way how it is structured, “has few mechanisms to hear to people’s opinion; it is an incredibly large democracy, being deeply concerned about law-making, but less concerned with citizens’ problems,” stated the Secretary. Once more, he emphasised the necessity and importance of voting in order to express citizens’ opinions at a global scale.
“Despite everything, the EU is a great democratic system which is elected, the European bodies are elected by the citizens’ votes which allow, every five years, to hear the citizens’ opinion regarding the European Union, and through voting there is clearly the opportunity of showing which path we want the EU to take,” concluded André Bradford.

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Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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