Participation of young people leads to better decisions
One of the aims of Swedish youth policy is for all young people to have genuine opportunities to influence. This means that young people should have the same opportunities as others to take an active part in the democratic process and to influence circumstances both at personal level and in society as a whole. The active participation of young people is important not only in terms of rights, but also because young people's experiences and perspectives are a resource and an asset in the decision-making process.
Active participation by young people in associations can lead to personal development, enhanced social skills, democratic training, responsibility, informal learning and increased employability. Political interest and engagement among young people are awakened by discussions of politics and other social issues. Alongside associations, schools also play an important role in this as arenas for discussion and dialogue.
The Government's most important measures in the area are outlined below.
Support for autonomous organisation by young people
Every year almost 100 national youth organisations take advantage of the Government's considerable support to autonomous organisation by young people. The grant aims to support autonomous organisation on the part of children and young people and their influence in society. The Government has approved a new ordinance for the allocation of the government grant.
Youth Policy Council
The Youth Policy Council was formed in 2008 by the then Minister for Youth Affairs and has since met in various constellations a few times each year to discuss current youth policy issues. An overarching theme for the Council has been to promote young people's influence on, and active participation in, society. Since 2008, those invited to attend the Council have been representatives of youth organisations and networks and bodies that work with young people in various ways. Representatives of government agencies and the research community also take part in the Council.
One way of increasing young people's participation is to encourage young people of school age to vote and to improve their knowledge about, and motivation for, how they can influence developments in society and take part in the democratic decision-making process. This is why school elections have been held on several occasions using government funds. These have been arranged by the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs in cooperation with the Election Authority, the National Agency for Education and a number of youth organisations. The Government intends to return to the issue of school elections before 2014.
Administration Partnership with a focus on young people
Since 2009, joint communication activities have been under way between the Government, the European Parliament and the European Commission to improve knowledge about the EU and current EU issues within the framework of the Administration Partnership. Since 1 January 2013, the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs has been responsible for an assignment within the Administration Partnership aimed at improving young people's knowledge about their rights and opportunities, such as voting in the European Parliament. Activities in 2013 and 2014 will partly focus on young people with a view to prioritising their engagement and participation in the European Parliament elections in 2014.
Analysis of young people's influence
The Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs was tasked with conducting an in-depth analysis on young people's influence and representation. In its report 'Focus 10 - an analysis of young people's influence', the Board highlights young people's opportunities for influence and participation in a representative democracy, their families, school, working life and leisure time. The study shows that young people in general have well-founded confidence in democracy as a political system.