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

Shephard, Mark Peter and Patrikios, Stratos (2013) Making democracy work by early formal engagement? A comparative exploration of youth parliaments in the EU. Parliamentary Affairs, 66 (4). pp. 752-771. ISSN 0031-2290

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Abstract

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.