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'Ready for it?' Brussels asks Taylor Swift to mobilise young voters ahead of EU elections

Taylor Swift might be heading for a cruel summer as Brussels asks the award-winning songwriter to mobilise young voters ahead of the European elections.
Taylor Swift might be heading for a cruel summer as Brussels asks the award-winning songwriter to mobilise young voters ahead of the European elections. Copyright Natacha Pisarenko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Natacha Pisarenko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Jorge Liboreiro
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Look what they made her do: Brussels has asked American star Taylor Swift to mobilise young voters ahead of the elections to the European Parliament.

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The unexpected plea was voiced on Wednesday morning as Margaritis Schinas, one of the European Commission's vice-presidents, presented a communication about the European Year of Youth, which took place in 2022.

Schinas spoke about "the importance for young Europeans to participate in this year's European election," scheduled to take place between 6 and 9 June. Experts anticipate a cruel summer for the EU as the far-right makes inroads in opinion polls.

"Now it's the moment for them (youth) to have a say in the ballot box, to attribute praise or blame on European policies. And it is therefore crucial, I think, that we have, as we had in 2019, a high level of participation of young Europeans in the June elections," he said.

"No one can mobilise youth better than young people, that's how it works."

Schinas then invoked Swift's name to underline his point.

"Just to give you an example: Taylor Swift, last September – she made a social media call to young Americans to register to vote. The day after her post, 35,000 young Americans had registered to vote," he said, referring to the short message that Swift shared last year on her Instagram account, which has more than 270 million followers.

The post, which included a link to Vote.org, came amid Swift's headline-grabbing Eras Tour, a sensational three-hour show that pays tribute to her entire discography and has already become the highest-grossing concert tour in history.

The astonishing success led Time Magazine to crown Swift as Person of the Year 2023, the first time a musician earned the coveted title, and prompted a flurry of analyses about the economic and cultural impact of the tour.

"I've been so lucky to see so many of you guys at my US shows recently. I've heard you raise your voices, and I know how powerful they are," Swift wrote in an Instagram story. "Make sure you're ready to use them in our elections this year!"

Swift is scheduled to bring the Eras Tour to Europe starting on 9 May in Paris, a date that, as Schinas pointedly remarked, will coincide with Europe Day. Besides France, the European leg will feature sold-out shows in other member states, such as Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Poland and Austria.

"Taylor Swift will be in Europe in May," Schinas said.

"So I will very much hope that she does the same for young Europeans and I very much hope that someone from her media team follows this press conference and relays this request to her."

Given the songwriter's carefully crafted public engagements, it's unclear if she will heed the call from Brussels or simply shake it off.

Turnout for the European Parliament elections has been historically low, with deep divergences among countries. In 2019, the figure stood at 50.66%, the first time it surpassed the 50% threshold since 1994. According to a Eurobarometer survey, the increase was largely due to youth participation. 

This year, four member states – Belgium, Germany, Malta and Austria – will allow citizens aged 16 or older to vote, hoping to reinvigorate the pan-continental democratic exercise.

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