Bringing the Latvian Youth Back to Political Participation

Elīna Graudiņa (Coresponding Author)

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After the collapse of the Soviet Union, post-soviet countries saw high levels of political participation. In the first democratic national elections of 1993, voter turnout in Latvia was 89.9 per cent. However, by the late 90s the participation levels had significantly decreased. As many noted scholars have pointed out, this dramatic decrease was a result of people gradually learning the limits of democratic governance while tackling the feeling of political powerlessness and decreasing trust in politicians and political institutions – all of which have had negative effects on civil society and democratic ideals (Howard 2003, Inglehard and Catterberg 2003). Youth in particular has been affected by the sum of all this, seeing first-hand the economic problems of small towns, income inequality, economic stagnation, corruption and personal unemployment, or that of their parents. All this, combined with lack of democratic traditions has resulted in scepticism and political apathy.
Youth participation in particular is essential for the continuation of political processes; their input should be valued in setting local agenda. Participation in political parties or political party youth organisations is one such field where youth can get involved in order to help set the agenda, and also use them as platforms to later run for office. Even though most political parties in Latvia have poorly run youth organisations, there is plenty of opportunity that youth can use to get involved in politics, especially on local government level, where competition is scarce, or youth is even given an advantage, because in comparison to the general population of some small towns, they have acquired better education, they know foreign languages, and they have better IT skills.
This paper shows that since 2009, Latvia has seen a decrease in all forms of political participation, including share of youth who run as MP candidates in local government elections, national parliament elections and the European Parliament elections. The paper aims to clarify what would help bring youth back into politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-99
Number of pages17
JournalStudia Europejskie - Studies in European Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Civil Society
  • Political Participation
  • Democracy
  • Political Activism
  • Youth

Field of Science*

  • 5.6 Political science

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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