Scottish Youth Parliament elections: Could you become one of the next generation of politicians? – Eleanor Bird

With the buzz of the Holyrood election behind us and in anticipation of more electoral excitement, it’s time to turn our attention to the next date in our democratic calendar: the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) election.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 4:55 am
Candidates are being sought for the Scottish Youth Parliament elections later this year (Picture: Mike Scott)

Since its inception in 1999, alongside the opening of the Scottish Parliament, SYP has championed youth-led community engagement and placed young people at the heart of policy and decision-making in Scotland.

The SYP election, planned to be held from November 8 to 21 this year, will offer Edinburgh’s young people the chance to stand up for what they believe in and shape the priorities for the new term of parliament.

As we’ve seen through previous SYP campaigns, it is only by empowering young people to play their full part in our democratic processes that we will see positive, progressive outcomes on the issues that matter most to them.

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The basic ‘not for them without them’ principle is central to everything SYP does and has led to action on votes at 16, marriage equality, the Scottish living wage and youth poverty.

Once again, we see that when we increase representation of young people, greater emphasis is given to social and collective values and the aspiration for equality across our governments, both locally and nationally.

SYP is a rights-based organisation, grounded in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and, in particular, Article 12: "Young people have the right to express their views freely and have their opinions listened to in all matters affecting them.”

The recent Bill that was passed unanimously at Holyrood enshrining this in Scots law was a momentous step for all Scotland’s children and young people. It was also a recognition of the collective efforts of SYP, the Children’s Parliament and others over many years to ensure that Scotland is the best place in the world to grow up.

In recent years, increasing turnout and contests across our six constituencies has been a challenge for Edinburgh and work is underway across the stakeholder group to reach as many prospective candidates as possible.

SYP is committed to being truly inclusive and ensuring diversity across its membership so that the range of candidates represents the voices of young people from every community and background in Scotland.

I want to pay enormous tribute to the MSYPs, past and present, who have dedicated their time and energy to listening to and delivering for the young people of Scotland and affecting the change they want to see.

Our MSYPs play a vital role in holding local and national government to account on the policies they care about most and by getting the message out and encouraging the democratic participation of the young people in our lives, we can help nurture Edinburgh’s next generation of leaders.

Nominations for expressions of interest to stand are open until June 30, so if you are, or know, a young person aged between 14 and 25, find out more about what it would mean to stand at, and the SYP’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram acounts.

Eleanor Bird is the SNP councillor for Forth Ward

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