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Neither in Central Europe, nor Hungary is it easy to involve young people in political decision-making processes, because only a small number is interested in the politics of public life.
National Youth Council [Nemzeti Ifjúsági Tanács (referred hereinafter to as NIT)] and Hungarian Youth Conference [Magyar Ifjúsági Konferencia (referred hereinafter to as MIK)] are such strategic partners. The National Organisation of Student Self-governing Bodies (Hallgatói Önkormányzatok Országos Konferenciája) and National Union of Doctoral Students [Doktoranduszok Országos Szövetsége (referred hereinafter to as DOSZ)] have more declared rights regarding certain fields of legislation (for example in higher education). Not only education but also according to another perspective, they establish youth organisations.
- based on life-situation – the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (Fiatal Vállalkozó Országos Szövetsége - FIVOSZ);
- some kind of value – Hungarian Scout Association (Magyar cserkészszövetség), Rákóczi Alliance (Rákóczi Szövetség)].
These, and other strategic partners of Ministry of Human Capacities (Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma), provide opportunities for young people to articulate their needs towards the Government. (See more details in sub-chapter 5.3 Youth representation bodies.)
Legal provisions or policy guidelines on youth consultation
Although there is not any declared or mandatory law on how young people should be involved in consultation processes, young people do have the opportunity to articulate their opinion on any matters related to them. All ministries have the right (declared by the law) to agree on strategic cooperation with those youth organisations who could support them in legislation. [CXXXI Act of 2010 on Public Participation in Developing Legislation (2010. évi CXXXI. törvény a jogszabályok előkészítésében való társadalmi részvételről)]
One of the Government’s decision is the Action plan for 2016-2017 of the National Youth Strategy (Nemzeti Ifjúsági Stratégia 2016-2017-re vonatkozó Cselekvési Terve) states that the Government should support the development of meaningful dialogue between young people and decision-makers and strengthen the participation of young people in society in order to promote youth and their communities, and continuous cooperation between the social actors involved in youth work should be ensured.
Levels on consultation
On ministry level, the Ministry of Human Capacities [Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma (hereinafter referred to as EMMI)] also provides a forum for consultation with youth organisations through one formation: the Roundtable for Youth Forum [Kerekasztal a Fiatalokért (hereinafter referred to as KAF)]. (For more information please see sub-chapter 1.4 Youth policy decision-making.) KAF did not meet in 2020 due to COVID-19 and it is transforming according to the information provided by the Ministry in 2020.
The above mentioned (strategic partner) national organisations also hold regular consultations with their members, where they can represent the current situation of youth. NIT has 2 general assembly meetings each year, furthermore related to specific projects they have additional consultations in the capital and in the countryside where local decision-makers and young people can have a dialogue on certain issues.
From the point of view of education policy, the National Youth Parliament (Országos Diákparlament) has an important role in representing the recommendations of the students.
On the local level, there is not a mandatory framework on how young people should be consulted (except for student councils at schools). Local consultations are dependent on local governments.
The organisations are invited by the Deputy State Secretary for Youth and Family Affairs of the Ministry of Human Capacities. The invited organisations are partly strategic partners of the Government, and partly they are organisations with great traditions, representing a significant number of youngsters. Since its establishment, the number of participants has increased.
Regularity of consultations
The KAF, which is a professional reconciliation forum between the Government and major youth organisations, meets every two months.
The Ministry of Human Capacities and the NIT can have consultations on certain specific youth issues as well; these are mainly ad hoc consultations. On the local level, there is not a mandatory framework on how young people should be consulted (except for student councils at schools). Local consultations are dependent on local governments.
At national level consultations of major youth organisation and decision-makers are quite common (see above). MIK has its national consultation twice a year as well as four Standing Committee meetings (Presidency).
Among the actors of the youth field
- youth workers (or experts) should be mentioned who take part in consultation processes as members of an organisation or as individuals;
- also, youth and student organisations (dealing with specific youth issues) have to be noted;
- Ministry professionals who are not decision-makers should also be mentioned and
- student/ youth councils operating at schools or at the local level are relevant actors, too.
Specific target groups within the youth field are not treated separately from youth in general.
The authorities who participate in youth consultation processes are mainly
- the Ministry of Human Capacities,
- the New Generation Centre Nonprofit Public Ltd. (Új Nemzedék Központ Nonprofit Közhasznú Kft.),
- the relevant ministry regarding certain issues (Ministry for National Economy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and
- the Ombudsman.
Officers responsible for youth issues at local governments and local NGOs should be mentioned as additional stakeholders. The National Cooperation Fund (Nemzeti Együttműködési Alap) (see in sub-chapter 5.6 Supporting Youth Organisations) also tries to take into account the relevant needs. Certain for-profit organisations are important actors as well regarding articulating the needs of youth.
It is mainly the youth organisations that take part in consultations at the national level as they can represent young people. Individual young people may participate in consultations at the local level or regarding specific issues. Sometimes 30-80 young people take part in consultations held by the National Youth Council [Nemzeti Ifjúsági Tanács (referred hereinafter to as NIT)] at the local level. They mostly discuss issues which are relevant on the local level with the delegates of NIT, NGOs, and other stakeholders, like in the nation-wide project 'Step up!' ('Lépj fel!'). Many of these youngsters are representatives of local school student councils.
On the other hand, this number is relatively low compared to the fact, that sometimes there can be as many as 1 000 participants at national events dealing with major issues. For example, the Young Entrepreneurs Week organised by the Young Entrepreneurs Association Hungary (referred hereinafter to as FIVOSZ) annually in fall. A higher number of young people are involved in the Open University (Szabadegyetem) event organised by NIT.
The major outcomes of the consultations with young people are usually individual political decisions which were made based on the suggestions of these discussions; for example, postponing or overruling a political decision, or establishing specific forums, for instance, the National Student Council (Országos Diáktanács).
All official data/decisions are publicly accessible but sometimes in legal terminology, for example, in the Hungarian Official Journal (Magyar Közlöny).
Roundtable for Youth Forum (KAF) is where youth organisations and decision-makers meet. (For more information about KAF see sub-chapter 1.5 Cross-sectorial approach with other ministries.)
The NIT developed a large-scale initiative, called the 'Step up!' ('Lépj fel!') programme, which was a series of programmes in all the counties of the country during a year. The aim was to bring young people and decision-makers together.
They measured the current problems of the youth in the frame of county Youth Days (Ifjúsági Napok) (consultation with the youth in the counties) and then discussed and developed solutions to these suggestions focusing on the following 7 main topics in connection with youth:
- conflict management,
- event management,
- descovering the local needs
- digital competencies – vlogs, blogs, social media and
- negotiation techniques.