Electronic voting in children’s parliament
With the aim to create a sustainable, national children’s organ, the Finnish Children’s Parliament is having a positive impact on the establishment of local parliamentary activities.
Direct network democracy is enabled through weekly chat meetings with electronic voting and permanent forum in children’s Finnish Parliament.
Children and adults work together to develop new means for discourse between children and adult decision-makers, and to create evolving methods for children to have an influence within their society.
Grown-ups are present in the meetings, but they don’t write statements about how they think children think. Children also decide the agenda of the meetings. The form of functioning of the children’s parliament is similar to the grown-ups’ parliament, since they also found commissions to prepare issues.
The activities endeavor to provide as many Finnish children as possible with the opportunity to experience co-operative participation and influence, as well as to enhance children’s media, democracy and lobbying skills.
A virtual parliament building has been constructed online for the use of the Finnish Children’s Parliament. This virtual building provides representatives with a place, independent of time and location, to interact and further their activities.
The Board and Committees of the Children’s Parliament have met weekly online in chat rooms, and have discussed issues and prepared for future plenary sessions. The children have carried this work out using written agendas. The Chairmen of the Board and Committees have begun to gradually assume their roles in leading the Committees, the Board and the Parliament.
The members of the Children’s Parliament have discussed issues online in their own discussion forums, responded to surveys submitted by decision-makers, and held a two-week long online plenary session. The Board and all of the children have also met in person, and the next physical plenary session for all the children involved will be held in Jyväskylä, Finland.
The children have various online tools at their disposal. The website enables a representative of the Children’s Parliament or any Finnish child to present the Children’s Parliament with an idea or an initiative through the ‘initiative channel’ service. In nearly six months, more than 150 new initiatives have been submitted.
In order to promote their issues, children gather information, utilise the media, their own online media, initiatives and statements, local activities, addresses, and surveys, and they also define what they feel is the right method for acknowledging children’s matters and interests. (One example of this is their definition of a positive recess environment.) The children’s own means of getting their messages across, such as poems, are also incorporated. The children have a USB flash drive containing a portfolio program for the presentation and drafting of proposals.
The Children’s Parliament Association has 3 full-time and 2 part-time employees, as well as more than 60 adult volunteers carrying out support work.
Representatives of children’s parliament visit the National Parliament and tell about their views. The members of the children’s parliament meet in person once in a year, and this year they have also started to meet regionally.