Making democracy work by early formal engagement? A comparative exploration of youth parliaments in the EU

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Comparative trends in political participation in the West draw a pessimistic picture: younger generations tend to avoid formal politics, opting instead for radical forms of political engagement or opting out altogether from the political process. This trend poses an obvious threat to the core democratic idea of popular control of government. One remedy for this problem, proposed in recent years, has been the creation of youth parliaments. This article explores features of youth parliaments and their impacts in the EU. Among considerable variety and comparative discussion of a myriad of measures, we find that youth parliaments fulfil a range of functions from political education, skills acquisition to political engagement, participation and even policy impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)752-771
Number of pages20
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Issue number4
Early online date14 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • youth parliaments
  • European Union
  • European Parliament

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