A blog that was set up to encourage young people to vote in the European parliamentary elections has been declared a huge success. The Think About It blogging competition, which targeted voters aged 18-25, received more than 2.7 million hits between its launch in February and the elections on June 4th.
The blog proved even more popular than EU Tube, the European Union’s online television channel which received 2.2 million hits in the same period. 81 bloggers from across the EU used the website to post 600 articles about European issues.
The European Journalism Centre (ECJ) and the European Commission, which funded the competition, expressed their delight at the outcome: “We never expected it to work so well,” said Wilfried Rütten, director of the ECJ. “The success can be seen in the site’s statistics: 2,000 comments, 5,000 trackbacks from external websites, 14,000 Google links and millions of visitors over a short time.”
Ruth Spencer, the associate editor of Think About It, said the blog had made European politics accessible to a younger audience. “This was a complete experiment because nothing like this has ever been attempted in Europe before. Our expectations were non-existent.”
Historically it has proved difficult to persuade young people to exercise their right to vote. In 2004, 67% of under-25s did not vote, compared with 54% of the electorate as a whole.
Statistics for voters aged under-25 in the 2009 election have yet to be revealed, but a YouGov poll published two days before the elections found that only 28% of 18-24 year-olds said they planned to vote. It remains to be seen whether the blogging project made a significant difference.