After a year of European elections and the confirmation that the political system is drawing away from young people’s forms of participation, actions promoting youth participation must be strengthened. We witnessed a large mobilisation of the European Youth Forum member organisations on the League of Young Voters. To make the most of this dynamic, we have to enlarge the focus to other forms of participation.
Far from apathy, young people get involved everyday in society. Whether they do it in youth organisations, within their family or community, or in the most informal ways we can imagine, they are much more active than what is visible to the naked eye. They tackle here and now a huge range of topics from « insignificant » to the most crucial ones. They all contribute to building our society and must be encouraged.
Besides voting, how do young people get involve ? Complementary to an « institutional » participation, informal ways of participation are increasing in number. Our action in this field must take into account all forms of participation. It goes from developing structured dialogue as a valuable process to be better recognised and used by decision-making stakeholders to advocating for the dissemination of the co-management model or also to renewing democratic practices (valuing democratic innovations within youth organisations, taking into account digital innovations…).
If young Europeans value welfare-state institutions, only one young person out of three (at best) trusts symbolic institutions of the democratic system and the bad image of political parties and governments (or even parliaments) demonstrates the generalised crisis of political representation and institutions. Young people still largely trust the democratic system but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t critical of it. Democracy is more than ever a work in progress and we need to work for more youth participation so that new forms of democratic processes can rise to renew what seems not to work as well as we thought it did.