EU and Türkiye: Youth Representation

In Türkiye, while the right to vote and be elected, possessed by every citizen who has reached the age of 18, seems to create an equal political understanding, the fact that this right cannot be used equally by everyone in practice shows that this issue is deeper. It is quite important for every individual’s representation that every segment of society can be elected with equal opportunities. For example, do young people have enough opportunities to represent themselves? Can they reflect their own problems and perspectives in politics? Youth representation in politics can be evaluated by the number of young deputies in the parliament. In a country like Türkiye, where the young population is quite crowded compared to other countries, the rate of young deputies should also be expected to be high. For ideal representation to be achieved, the rate of the young population and the rate of young deputies should be close to each other.

Comparing Turkey’s position in youth representation with highly developed European countries will both provide a better understanding of the situation and show which other strong aspects of a state are aligned with the increase in youth representation. The current situation of the parliaments in youth representation of Türkiye will be compared with the Netherlands and Denmark, which have inclusive rights and freedoms and a high level of welfare, and Germany and France, which have a strong economy and an established political system. While Belgium represents an average European Union country, Italy and Spain, which struggle more with economic difficulties but also work on representation, will be included in the comparison as two countries with similar characteristics to Türkiye.

Youth and Women Representation

The issue of representation in Europe was first addressed through “women’s representation”. Therefore, although countries like France, Belgium, Spain, and Italy, which are interested in the issue of representation, include a women’s quota in their election laws, there is no youth quota. The situation is no different in Türkiye. Although the women’s quota in Türkiye is similar to Germany and the Netherlands in the freedom of parties, women’s representation is in quite good condition compared to youth representation in all three countries due to the sensitivity shown by the parties in this regard. In a European country like Denmark, where rights and freedoms are quite extensive and inclusive, there is neither a women’s representation quota nor a youth representation quota. Regardless of the level of development of the country, the rate of young deputies in the parliament of any European country does not match the rate of the young population to the total population.

Comparison of Parliaments

When comparing the parliaments of Türkiye and other European countries, it is necessary to reveal the differences in the parliamentary systems. While Türkiye has a unicameral system with a single parliament, other European countries have a bicameral parliamentary system. Since all deputies in the unicameral system in Türkiye serve through direct elections, the parliament is similar to the lower chambers in Europe. Since the deputies serving in the senates, which are the upper chambers in Europe, do not come by election, it will be useful in terms of the consistency of the data to leave the senates out when making a representation comparison. All numerical data used in all comparisons belong to the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye and the lower chamber of the relevant country.

Average Age of Parliaments

After examining whether there is a youth quota, a general idea about youth representation can be obtained by looking at the general average ages of the parliaments. When looking at European Union countries with high development, such as France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Denmark, the best result is given by the Netherlands and Denmark with an average age of 45. Since these two countries are the two countries that work the most on inclusiveness in local municipal policies with the highest welfare levels, this result is not surprising. Belgium follows these two countries with an average age of 46. Then come Spain and Germany with 47, while France’s average age is calculated as 49.09 and Italy’s as 49.92. Looking at all these data, the average age of the parliaments of the examined European countries has remained below 50; Türkiye has exceeded this limit. The current average age of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye is 52.10. In this respect, our country has an older parliament, but it actually has the densest young population among these countries. This makes Türkiye the country where the average age of its population and its parliament least match.

Ideal Youth Representation

The ratio of young deputies to the total number of deputies in the parliament will also be an important criterion for youth representation. The two countries with the highest rate of deputies under 30 are Germany (8.83%) and Denmark (7.82%), respectively. They are followed by the Netherlands (7.33%). The youngest parliaments in terms of average age, Denmark and the Netherlands, have maintained their places in the top three in this data as well. While the rate in France is 5.89%, it has dropped to 3.3% in Belgium, 2% in Spain, and 1.25% in Italy. The fact that Italy and Spain, which are behind other countries in terms of social welfare, also lag behind in the rate of young deputies indicates that youth representation develops in the same direction as the level of welfare. Türkiye, which has the oldest parliament among all these states, also lags behind in the rate of deputies under 30. The rate of young deputies in the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye is only 0.83%.

Although the rate of youth representation in the parliament increases with the improvement of the countries’ welfare levels, parliaments do not fully reflect the youth in society in any country. To see this discrepancy, the ratio of the population aged 20-29 to the total population can be compared with the rate of young deputies in the parliament. In some countries like Türkiye, where the eligibility age is 18, taking the population rate of 20-29 years as the basis will not create confusion since there are no deputies between 18-20 years of age in any example country. Among the European Union member countries used as examples, the highest rate of young population is found in Denmark (13.2%) and the Netherlands (12.9%), respectively. Both countries, with relatively high rates of young deputies, have remained consistent in terms of representation with a deviation of 5%. Belgium (12%) comes next, with a difference of about 8%, indicating that it lags behind in terms of representation. The country with the least difference between the rate of young population and young deputies is Germany. The difference between the rates in Germany is even less than 3%. Thus, Germany can represent its young population in the parliament in a more real ratio compared to other countries. France is the country that gives the best results after Germany with a difference of 6%. Spain and Italy lag behind other European Union example countries in this data as well. The difference in these countries is close to 9%. When European Union countries are compared among themselves, the strong political understanding and relatively high welfare levels of the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and France have been proportional to youth representation. Looking at Türkiye, the difference between the rate of young population and the rate of young deputies is even greater than in Spain and Italy. While the difference is less than 10% in all example European Union countries, this difference is 15% in Türkiye. Türkiye, with 15.8%, has the highest rate of young population while having the lowest rate of young deputies.

All these data and comparisons indicate that Türkiye’s parliament is quite old compared to its young population. The crowded Türkiye youth cannot find adequate representation in the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye, the highest level of politics. This inclusivity problem of the parliament brings Turkish politics to a point far from equality for all social groups. The lack of adequate representation of the real stakeholders of the country’s future in the formation that shapes the country’s future will lead to the inability to solve real problems and the desired progress not being achieved in the long term.


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