National youth parliaments (September 2019)
Youth parliaments represent an opportunity for young people to familiarise themselves with democratic decision-making, to reflect on social issues, and to argue for their ideas in a mock parliamentary debate. They usually involve simulations of the workings of a real parliament, lasting over a few days. In so doing, they offer a concrete experience of participation in policy-making.
Youth parliaments at the national level exist only in about one third of the countries surveyed. They are organised either by public authorities or by non-governmental organisations. In the latter case, they are at least partially funded by public budgets.
When set up by public actors, the country’s national parliament is generally the initiator. For example, the youth parliament of the United Kingdom was first launched by the House of Commons in 1999. In Poland, the national youth parliament is organised as an educational project by the Polish Parliament Chancellery. In Denmark, the national parliament hosts a one-day youth parliament every second year.
If organised by non-governmental organisations, it is frequently under the auspices of Youth Councils, as in Malta and Cyprus.