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Swiss youth organisations demand more political rights

Swiss youth organisations on Monday demanded a higher political profile and called for more political rights, including a new Federal Office for Children’s affairs and the lowering of the voting age from 18 to 16.

This content was published on June 21, 1999 - 13:02

Swiss youth organisations on Monday demanded a higher political profile and called for more political rights, including a new Federal Office for Children’s affairs and the lowering of the voting age from 18 to 16.

The demands were part of a reform package, which the Swiss Federation of Youth Organisations presented at a news conference in the capital Berne, ahead of parliamentary elections later this year.

“The key to a successful youth policy is to allow young people to participate in the process of political decision making,” said the federation, adding that, all too often ideas and suggestions made by young people were not taken seriously by the authorities.

The federation said it presented the reform proposals on behalf of about half a million young people grouped in youth organisations.

It suggested that young people should be allowed to stage parliamentary sessions more frequently so that their ideas, proposals and criticism of adult policies could be presented adequately and with more political weight.

Such youth parliaments have been held several times at a national level in the past few years.

During these sessions, adult politicians made way for their young counterparts and moved to the spectator ranks to listen to the often animated debates by child-politicians as young as twelve years.

In their 22-point reform package, the youth organisations also said that Swiss education must remain free and that there should be a firm commitment by all sides to the apprenticeship programmes.

“We want to help shape a Swiss society that is open to the world and tolerant and which is based on solidarity, justice and respect for the environment,” the youth organisations said as they presented their vision of the future.

In international affairs, Switzerland should join the European Union and the United Nations, and should unconditionally implement the U.N. convention on the rights of children, the youth federation said.

Switzerland ratified the U.N. convention in 1997 as one of the last countries to do so -- but not without claiming certain exemptions. Those included certain regulations on acquiring Swiss nationality, the right for children to live with their families and the separation of children from adults in criminal detention.

Sources: The Associated Press and sda-ats news agency

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