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Youth Parliament

Youth Parliament 1998 - 2008

Youth Parliament has now been organised for the sixth time. During the past ten years, 1194 youths have gotten into the Parliament’s most visible spot, the main meeting hall. About 540 youths have watched from the wings as journalism students. During the past ten years, almost 550 Youth Parliament clubs have been established in Finland, of which circa 500 have sent a representative to the meeting in the spring. The number of youths participating in activities is, by a conservative estimate, at least ten times the number of clubs.  

Over the past ten years, more than 150 verbal questions have been addressed in the meeting hall. Questions presented have ranged from the environmental risks of desertification to the lowering of the voting age. The Youth Parliament has been a forum that has been able to naturally bring to the attention of political decision makers those community issues that youths feel should be brought up and included in political discussion. Historical and statistical data can be found at www.eduskunta.fi/nuortenparlamentti (in Finnish).  

Over the years the Youth Parliament has become one part of Finnish young people’s system of being heard and affecting decisions. The youth law requires that young people be heard locally and regionally in matters that concern them. Questions presented to members of Parliament in the meeting hall are at least one entirety when considering what exactly is a matter concerning young people.  

Over the years in the meeting hall decisions that are binding on adults have also been achieved. During the first meeting a clear majority voted for the Youth Parliament to be realised regularly.

During the meeting in 2006 a position was taken regarding payment of representatives’ travel expenses from government funds, which was realised for the first time in 2008.  The Youth Parliament is intended to be a voluntary activity for students in the 8th and 9th grades. At Parliament clubs established at school students become familiar with:

  • representative democracies
  • Parliamentary activities
  • young people’s possibilities to affect decisions and
  • acting as an active citizen through themes that are interesting and timely for them.
The clubs’ activities culminate in the verbal question sessions organised in the Parliament’s meeting hall. There young people present questions that have been prepared at their clubs to members of Parliament with the head of Parliament leading the discussion. Young people participating in the Youth Parliament have a chance to see the Finnish decision-making model. They become familiar with how decisions are prepared. The preparation of questions for the ministers requires a notably broad knowledge base. The Youth Parliament offers young people a possibility for “effective citizenship experience”.  An online course has been established for Youth Parliament clubs for the duration of the club season (kerhokeskus.moodle.fi). The goal of the online course was to strengthen communication between the clubs during the club season.  Parliament clubs prepared a total of 170 questions for members of Parliament. Many of them focused on the same subject areas, and because only about 20 questions can be handled during a question session a limit has already had to be set for the number of questions. The following principles were followed in putting together the schedule:
  • regional equality
  • gender equality
  • linguistic reach
  • equality among the ministries.
In categorising questions received by subject, four particular themes came to light:
  • questions regarding school and teaching
  • those relating to mass transit/climate change
  • questions relating to citizens’ feelings of security
  • young people’s psychological problems and emotional bad feelings.

The youths were happy with the meeting day's arrangements - the food, members of Parliament and the greeting ceremony. In a few cases feedback pondered how events like this give young people natural routes to have their voices heard. The experience was new and exciting, and the youths were mostly satisfied with the ministers' answers. The answers included reminders that community matters of interest to young people and projects such as this will no doubt increase young people's interest in politics and in affecting decisions. (Kääntämö/Simo Autio)

What is Youth Parliament

The Youth Parliament project is intended for pupils on class levels 8 - 9 of the comprehensive school. The members of the Parliamentary Clubs started in schools acquaint themselves with, among other things, the following issues:


• Representative democracy
• Parliament's work
• Possibilities for young people to exert influence and
• be proactive as citizens
by discussing topical themes of interest for them.

The work of Parliamentary Clubs culminates in an oral Question Hour arranged in the Session Hall of Parliament House. During the Question Hour, the representatives of Parliamentary Clubs pose questions they have prepared in advance to Cabinet Ministers and the Speaker of Parliament is chairing the session.

The tradition of Youth Parliament sessions dates back to 1997 when the President of the French National Assembly, Laurent Fabius, proposed organising of a Children's Parliament in the EU Member States. In Finland, the project has been carried out in cooperation between Parliament, youth workers and educational institutions. Themes and procedures have been developed by Kerhokeskus - koulutyön tuki ry together with Parliament and various players in the field.

The pupils participating in Youth Parliament meetings represent classes 8 and 9 of the comprehensive school. Schools and municipalities have started Youth Parliament Clubs that are open to young people who are interested in society-related issues. The members of Youth Parliament Clubs are well-motivated, because clubs operate on a voluntary basis. This concerns both pupils and club leaders.

Young people who engage in the Youth Parliament project get an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the Finnish model of decision-making. They also learn how decisions are being prepared. Preparing questions to be addressed to Cabinet Ministers requires quite a broad knowledge base that the pupils of the final classes of the comprehensive school do not have, yet. The Youth Parliament project offers, accordingly, young people an experience of active citizenship. Moreover, Youth Parliament Clubs also provide a method of testing the functioning of representative democracy, because all club members do not get an opportunity to participate in the actual Youth Parliament Session.


To this effect, a specific web site (www.kerhokeskus.fi/mentorimenneisyydesta) intended for young people - and all other interested parties - was created in order to help them get acquainted with the parliamentary reform of 1906, the new Parliament Act, the Election Act, universal suffrage including the parliamentary elections of 15 and 16 January 1907 and the work of the first unicameral Parliament over the first electoral period (1907-1908).
Moreover, an on-line course (www.kerhokeskus.moodle.fi) lasting over the club period was created to promote the club work. The aim of the on-line course was to strengthen contacts between existing Parliamentary Clubs, shed light on the topical society-related debate including its background by means of practical examples and to provide young people with information on their possibilities of influence.


The most important information channel used by the Youth Parliament project is its own web site (www.kerhokeskus.fi/nuortenparlamentti). The printed material on which the club work was based is compiled of the brochures published by Parliament.

Nearby all of members of the Cabinet (in Finland called the Council of State) were attending the meeting.
The participants of the Plenary Session were satisfied with the arrangements i.e. the food served, MPs and the anniversary reception organised after the Plenary Session. Some persons who gave feed back stated that occasions like this offer a natural channel for young people to get their voices heard. This was a new and exiting experience, and the participants were mainly satisfied with the answers given by various Cabinet Ministers. The answers stressed the fact that young people are interested in society-related issues and that projects of the same type as the Youth Parliament are aimed at increasing their interest in politics. At the same time, the Youth Parliament Clubs somehow reflect the picture of a young idealist whose motto is "one should interfere and exert one's influence".





Web site (in Finnish).




Youth Parliament 2006 (ppt)

Youth Parliament 2004 (pdf)