5.5 National strategy to increase youth participation
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Existence of a national strategy to increase young people's political and civil society participation
There is no specific strategy for increasing young people’s participation in Sweden. Instead, youth participation is an important component of the Swedish youth policy objective, approved by Parliament in 2014:
‘All young people should have access to good living conditions, power to shape their own lives and influence over the development of the society’.
What more, initiatives to foster young people's political participation are streamlined in the national democracy policy. The communication, ‘Policy for a living democracy’ (En politik för en levande demokrati), presented measures to increase young people's political participation. These are presented in 'Scope and contents' below.
The communication ‘Policy for a living democracy’ from 2013 has five points of departure:
1. A high and more equal voter turnout
According the communication, voter turnout is an expression of the rootedness of democracy in society. What more, a higher turnout also means a more equal turnout, so election results more accurately reflect the diverse interests and views expressed in society.
2. Broader and equal participation in elected assemblies
The main argument was that it is crucial to the vitality of democracy that there is widespread interest in holding elected office and participating in elected assemblies. According to the Communication, it is also important for decision-making political assemblies to reflect the composition of the population, above all with respect to sex, age and country of birth.
3. Strengthened opportunities for influence, transparency and participation between elections
A point was made on the importance of all individuals being able to make their voices heard in ways other than voting in the general elections. A continuous dialogue between decision-makers and voters is a significant factor in the rootedness of democracy in society. Furthermore, the Communication argued that it is particularly important to create opportunities for influence among those who otherwise participate to a lesser extent.
4. Increased democratic awareness
Awareness of the fundamental principles of democracy and knowledge of the rules of democracy are a prerequisite for a functioning democratic form of government.
5. Safeguarding democracy against violence-promoting extremism
According to the Communication, ideological violence directed at society’s institutions, its representatives or at private citizens is a challenge for democracy and social cohesion in society. Furthermore, a society that does not clearly distance itself from violence promoting extremism and ideologically motivated violence risks becoming polarised.
The Government, specifically the Ministry for Culture (since October 2014) and Justice (before October 2014), is responsible for actions taken within their respective domains. For each action of the strategy, the Government has commissioned a responsible actor, as explained above. In general, a final report is presented for the Government after the task has been implemented.
In 2018, the Government highlighted the challenges facing democracy and set priorities for democracy policy for the years 2018-2021, in a renewed strategy and action programme (Strategi för en stark demokrati – främja, förankra, försvara). The strategy draws attention to the fact that in 2021 it is 100 years since democracy had its breakthrough in Sweden. Universal and equal suffrage was then introduced for both women and men.
The strategy contains three priority areas:
- Promote - more people should be involved in democracy
- Anchor - more people should have knowledge of democracy
- Defend - more people must stand up for democracy
The strategy does not contain any major innovations or tasks targeting young people.