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Young Swiss seek political recognition

Young people from across Switzerland gathered in Bern for the youth session of parliament

(Keystone)

The 200 participants at the 14th youth session of parliament are to deliver ten petitions to the Swiss federal parliament on Saturday.

Although previous efforts to influence political decision-making have had little impact, they are determined to keep up the pressure.

Young parliamentarians are looking at new ways of making their mark on politics, spokesman Christoph Musy said on Friday.

The youth parliament has been in session since Thursday. The participants, ranging in age from 14 to 21, have this year been discussing the theme of mobility, subdivided into seven categories: globalisation, society, borders, army, money, profession and security.

The sub-themes were selected to correspond with the areas of activity of the seven different federal ministries. The idea was to draw attention not just from members of the federal parliament, but also from the government.

Mobility

The ten petitions to be submitted on Saturday cover different aspects of mobility. They also include a call for free language courses for foreigners to help their integration, and a proposal for harmonising the school system in Switzerland.

Petitions submitted in previous years have generally failed to win support in political circles. Despite that the youth parliament continues to be the main source of petitions to parliament having initiated 24 of the 105 texts handed in since 2002.

Only one youth parliament petition has so far been successful: a motion to ban all Nazi and fascist symbols, which has since been approved by both houses of parliament.

But Musy said the main aim of the youth session was to motivate young people to take an interest in politics and teach them about parliamentary processes.

He said the organisers were not frustrated by the lack of success of previous initiatives, but were nevertheless looking at new ways of working, including cooperation with federal offices and non-governmental organisations.

Andy Hürlimann, the president of the Youth Session Forum, pointed to the constructive cooperation in the past with the Federal Health Office and Swiss Federal Railways on banning smoking on trains. The ban comes into force next month.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The first youth session took place in 1991 to mark the 700th anniversary of the founding of modern Switzerland.

It is organised by the Swiss council for youth activities.

Regional youth parliament sessions have also been held.

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