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YouthWiki

EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Czech-Republic

Czech-Republic

5. Participation

Policy encouraging democratic youth participation as such does not have a long tradition in the Czech Republic, mainly due to the historical experience during the communist regime, which did not allow for free expression of opinion. This is not only reflected in generally low participation in children's and youth organisations, but also in political participation of the adult population (see Mansfeldová,Kroupa, 2005). However, there has been a gradual improvement since 1989, when citizens became more aware of their rights and the need to engage.

Youth participation is one of the utmost priorities of the Czech Youth Strategy 2014-2020. The preferred approach is to support the participation from the bottom up. This, however, also leads to a lack of top-level systemic initiatives.

There is an ongoing discussion about supporting more participation and participatory mechanisms for the general public and civic society. Even some political parties are pledging to introduce the Law on Referendum and other mechanisms to enhance citizen participation. One of the examples that influenced the institutional order of the Czech Republic was the introduction of direct election of the President since 2013 and thus in January 2018 the historically second direct presidential election took place. The presidential election in 2013 also showed a higher interest from the side of Czech young people in comparison to Parliamentary elections.

Staying at Youth Policy level, youth participation is one of the priorities, however, only one wider systemic national initiative has been observed since 2014, with the establishment of the National Working Group for the Structured Dialogue with Youth, an adaptation of the Structured dialogue from European to a national level. Structured Dialogue with Youth thus became a national process and initiative to support young people in their civic, public and political participation at all levels of public governance, including the introduction of the UN Youth Delegate programme for Czech Youth.

Within the Youth work field there have also been attempts at introducing e-participation tools, however because of the limited scope, they were more or less ineffective.

The narrative of youth participation changed in the last decade from a more educational to a more pro-active approach of young people and their empowerment in having an influence also on real political decision-making at all levels.

One of the predispositions of successful youth participation was identified in citizenship education. With the general restoration of the topic of citizenship education and its role and function in democratic society, young people, their organisations and representatives are more active also on a national level in shaping the political and expert discussions on the introduction of new state formal framework for supporting the citizenship education and its quality. The Government in 2017 held a public hearing to introduce a new state framework for citizenship education, however, after the October election 2017 the topic was further worked out by the Office of the Government and in summer 2018 paused by the prime minister. 

Though there are no state initiated researchers on youth participation, several NGOs, including youth organisations, are active in this field and are thus creating pressure on the state to advance its activity in this field.