Hear the voices of our children!

By Laura TomassiniLex KlerenMisch PautschLaurent Sturm Switch to German for original article

Participation is one of the buzzwords among Luxembourg's politicians. However, those who are rarely asked are children. And yet, various projects show that it is often the youngest people in the country who live democracy the most. Food for thought for the newly elected government.

On 1 January last year, the Grand Duchy counted 122.643 children. 122.643 citizens with rights that were granted to them in 1989 by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and have also been enshrined in the Luxembourg Constitution since 1 July this year. However, there is one right that children in this country do not have: the right to vote. 2023 was a super election year in Luxembourg with the municipal elections on 11 June and the Chamber elections on 8 October. Although participation, and explicitly that of children and young people, was included in the election manifestos of the individual parties on both occasions, the elected representatives do not seem to take youth participation very seriously when you look at the coalition agreement 2023–2028 that has now been published.

There are a total of 25 matches for the word participation in the digital version of 'Lëtzebuerg fir d'Zukunft stäerken' – only three of which concern minors. One is about exchange programmes such as Erasmus+, another is about the modernisation of curricula and a third – finally! – the participation of children and young people. Relief is followed by disillusionment, however, as three whole sentences are devoted to the topic and only familiar proposals made: more resources for student committees, the national student conference (CNEL) and participatory projects in the municipalities.

Young people with an interest for politics

"At school, but also in general, we are only perceived as pupils, whereas we see ourselves as pupils and people. These are two completely different perspectives, " says Mia Spina-Barboni. The thirteen-year-old has been interested in politics since this year and actively followed both elections. Her interest does not stem from a school subject, but originated in school bench and playground conversations with her peers. "Many of my friends come from foreign families, so the rise of right-wing parties was a big issue for us, " explains Mia.

What was discussed among her classmates didn't let go of the high school student at home either, so the conversations at dinner suddenly took a whole new direction: "My parents talked about politics across the table and were amazed when I was able to join in." Mia sought advice from her stepfather, who explained Luxembourg's electoral system to her and was able to provide information about the different party programmes. "On election day, we then watched the developments on TV together because I was really interested to see what the outcome would be, " says the teenager.

You want more? Get access now.

  • One-year subscription

  • Monthly subscription

  • Zukunftsabo for subscribers under the age of 26


Already have an account?

Log in