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Youth sets the agenda at first Youth People’s Meeting

On 8 and 9 September 2016, the first ever edition of the Youth People’s Meeting has seen more than 20.000 young people gather for cross-political debates and democratic participation in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Social Democrats and the Social-Liberal Party also welcomed youth delegations from Swaziland and Tanzania to this democratic festival.

In June 2016, the 6th yearly edition of the People’s Meeting saw 100.000 peole gather for cross-political dialogue on the Danish island Bornholm. The event, which has often been used as a destination for DIPD partner delegations, is seen as a excellent display of how open and peaceful the Danish democracy can play out.

And just as strengthe20160909_141728ning the cross-political dialogue is a strategic focus of DIPD, so is the inclusion of youth in political parties and democratic processes. Often one specific aspect of the political life in Denmark is highligthed by visiting youth delegations from across the world: the autonomy of youth parties and the extensive possibilities for political engagement Danish youth enjoy.

The launch of the Youth People’s Meeting is therefore welcome addition to the political calendar, and the inaugural edition has seen the spirit of its more well-known “mother meeting” being well adapted to a younger audience. Most imporantly, large parts of this political festival is for youth, by youth.

The youth wing
In true multiparty fashion, all the Danish youth parties except one, have spent the last two days inviting young people in for discussions on youth issues and promoting youth participation in political parties. With all the parties clung together on one political shopping street at the festival, cross-political discussion often arised spontaniously and visitors could get an excellent introduction to the different political organisations.

The Youth People’s Meeting organizors have worked strategically with the inclusion of of students from the different youth educations, a target group that is often accused of being indifferent to political issues. The experience of the of the youth parties present at the festival was however quite different, with all of the reporting high attendance numbers at debates and a genuine interest in political issues.

Finally, the Friday program also included a cross-political youth party leader debate, where issues such as education, taxation and the declining trust in politicians were discussed in front of a strong audience.

Youth Party Leader debate at UFM 16

Bringing inspiration back home
As part of their ongoing partnerships with Tanzania’s Civic United Front (CUF) and Swazi Democratic Party (SWADEPA) respectively, the Social-Liberal Party and the Social Democrats welcomed youth delegations to the Youth People’s Meeting.

While both Tanzania and Swaziland faces very different political challanges than those the Danish youth discussed at their People’s Meeting, the visit provided useful inspiration:

“For us, it is very interesting to see how a festival like this works together with the education institutions, and how the youth parties engages the youth”, General Secretary of SWADEPA’s youth wing, Zamokuhle Jonga, explained.

DSU tent at UFM 16

DIPD continues to support the inclusion of youth in political parties, both through its multiparty partnerships in countries such as Myanmar and Egypt, but also through a support for party partnerships such as those developed by the Social Democrats and the Social-Liberal Party.

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