Rhian Shillabeer has been elected the Cardiff South and Penarth representative on the Welsh Youth Parliament.
The so-called “Youth Parliament” comprises 60 young people, of whom 40 were elected in an on-line ballot covering each one of the 40 parliamentary constituencies in Wales; the remaining 20 come from “organisations and charities”.
The idea of a “Welsh Youth Parliament” – initiated in 2016 – follows the pattern of the 369-member UK Youth Parliament formed under the UK Labour Government in 2000 – which is supposed to represent the views of young people to government and service providers.
Young people wishing to stand for election as representatives in the Welsh Youth Parliament were able to “register their interest” and put their names forward in September this year.
All young people between the ages of 11 and 18 were ostensibly qualified to vote in the on-line Welsh Youth Parliament Election although there appears to be scant electoral oversight of the procedures involved and little proper democratic mandate .
[PDN Note : On 2 October 2018, the Welsh Assembly Commission announced its intention to introduce legislation lower the voting age for orginary Assembly elections to 16. This means that unlike adults, young people between the ages of 16 and 18 will enjoy a “double franchise” and be able to vote in election for both the Youth Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. However registering to vote for the Youth Parliament is a different process from having one’s name registered to vote on the main Register of Electors].
Youth Parliament members appear not to have any declared official political party labels – at least not as yet.
The “Youth Parliament” will meet for the first time in February next year . Each newly-elected member will serve for a 2-year term – after which there will be a further election. The purpose of the exercise is said to be to “empower young people to identify, raise awareness and debate the issues that are important to them“.
The Welsh Assembly’s “youth outreach and education team” is to hold hold a series of “workshops, school and colleges visits, train the trainer sessions and provide resources for organisations to hold their own events”.