Timothy Forman says it is hard to motivate young people in the Czech Republic to participate in politics. Many of them want to be able to use online voting.
The 17-year old student from Prague is a fresh voice of the Swiss Abroad community. swissinfo.ch gives the floor to leading members of the newly-founded online youth parliament.
swissinfo.ch: What do you want to achieve as a member of the new youth parliament of the Swiss abroad – first of all in Switzerland, and second in your country of residence?
Timothy Forman: As an active member of the Youth Parliament of the Swiss Abroad (YPSA) I would like to achieve many things such as letting the voice of young Swiss living abroad to be heard.
Also I’d like to create many interesting activities for them in my country of residence which they will be able to participate in and get to know other Swiss living abroad in their country of residence.
swissinfo.ch: What does direct democracy look like in your country of residence? Are there options that you especially appreciate? And ones that you miss having?
T.F.: In my opinion the Czech Republic doesn’t have the best form of democracy.
We have voting procedures but not all the laws that are being passed are always approved by the people. People here have less of a say than the Swiss citizens who can vote on issues.
Another problem is that the young people won’t vote if they have to go somewhere.
They would rather vote online but the government hasn’t yet agreed to do so.
swissinfo.ch: In most countries young people vote less often than people of other age groups. Isn’t direct democracy a prime agent for young people to communicate their political needs and ideas?
T.F.: Direct democracy is indeed a prime agent for young people to communicate their political ideas but as I have seen in my country, the Czech Republic.
Young people seem very lazy and would rather have online voting. But the Czech Republic doesn’t offer an online voting procedure yet, so this causes the voice of the young not to be heard so much.
swissinfo.ch: Since the attacks in Paris, Europe has been obsessed with the terrorism of the Islamic State (IS) group. Is the fight against Islamic extremists, which has led to the restriction of individual freedoms, a danger for democracies?
T.F.: I believe that the fight against Islamic extremists can be a potential danger for democracies as a democracy is supposed to involve everyone from a state or polity in decision-making.
If the restriction of individual freedoms is occurring then democracy is threatened as it is no longer following the principles of true democracy and not hearing the voices of all the people.
Platform for young Swiss expats
The youth parliament of the Swiss Abroad was set up only a few months ago and is still in its infancy.
It’s primarily an online platform which brings together the about 350 members across the world for debates and other exchanges of ideas via social media and skype.
swissinfo.ch interviewed 11 young Swiss expatriates who are leading members of the youth parliament. Our questions focus on issues of participatory citizenship in their countries of residence and in Switzerland.