By Kristian Petro
The European Youth Forum
This initiative includes youth from all over Europe and works for better representation, rights, and democracy among young people. Every year, they announce a European Youth Capital, which turns into a hub of projects and initiatives throughout the year. The initiatives are mostly connected to the representation and political education of young people.
Gender and Minority Quotas in Politics
In almost all European countries, there are gender and minority group quotas. Most of them were put in force to include more women in politics. There are initiatives to grow the percentage of underrepresented groups every year until we reach a balance between population and representation. These policies have already resulted in better gender equality. The quotas for minorities, especially of other nationalities serve as a form of inclusion in decision making, including of groups who normally cannot be represented.
LGBTQI+ Ukrainians on the Frontiers
The non-discriminative viewpoint of the Ukrainian army allows anyone to fight regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It is only in recent years that policies like this have begun to be adopted around the world. In the current situation of Ukraine this allows a better and more welcoming army, guaranteeing a more inclusive society after the war.
Young European Ambassadors
This group of young people from all the Eastern European countries seeks to promote European values among everyone despite the differences. It is inclusive in all terms, and it promotes democracy. Through training, the ambassadors are turned into mentors for their peers in every region of their country, to spread their values everywhere without leaving anyone behind.
The National Democratic Institute is an American institution present in almost all countries which need further development, especially concerning democracy. Through their funding and expertise, they bring democracy closer to the people. Their training sessions help Eastern European countries to develop more inclusive democracies.
German Local Elections
In Germany, anyone from the EU aged 18 or above can vote in local elections. This is seen by many as a positive development for democracy, allowing for better representation of the community. There are a lot of communities with large shares of immigrants from EU countries, whose interests differ from those of the locals. Without this system it would not be fair to us that others would take decisions, – says 21-year-old Alexis from Greece.
Direct Democracy Switzerland
Switzerland made headlines recently when their citizens voted against nuclear energy in favour of renewables. In a country with one of the highest democracy indexes in the world, citizens are often asked to vote directly on delicate decisions. This brings everyone closer to the process and increases participation when it comes to certain policies.
Public Consultations in Albania
Although referendums are legal and have sometimes been used, the government has found an easier and cheaper way to consult the public on topics that are not major enough to call for a referendum. They announce online surveys through an app controlled by the statistics institute, in which questions are posed to the citizens. The most recent one was about legalizing cannabis. After most citizens voted in favour of the process, the state started preparing the legal groundwork to respect the decision. Certain models can be especially helpful in local communities as a fast and easy way to problem solving.
Voting Age of 16 in Austria
Austria is one of the only European countries that allow voting at such a young age. The benefits of this are better representation of youth. It also serves as a lesson in democracy for young people who will be the adults of the future.