Budapest Forum 2022: Young people and democratic action



  • AGNIESZKA DZIEMIANOWICZ-BĄK, Member of the Polish Parliament
  • ANDRÁS BÍRÓ-NAGY, Director, Policy Solutions
  • ELENA AVRAMOVSKA, Senior Researcher Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
  • OLGA RICHTEROVÁ, Member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic
  • Moderator: ZSUZSANNA SZELÉNYI, Director, CEU Democracy Institute Leadership Academy, Former MP


The Central and Eastern European region is changing rapidly, yet still shows marks of its socialist past, while experiencing democratic backsliding and shrinking population as young people in the region emigrate elsewhere in great numbers. For this reason the Eastern European youth’s opinion in the region about their democracies and how democratic deficits could be addressed are essential to the future of Eastern Europe, which is examined in a study made by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The panel, which is composed of researchers who worked on the study and politicians from Eastern European countries, discusses the main findings of the research as the participants share their experiences that tie into the political attitude of youth in the region.

Main takeaways

  • Young people are positive about their personal outlooks for the future, but pessimistic about their countries’ future
  • The youth’s main concern is about livelihood (low wages, pensions, etc.)
  • Trust in national political institutions among young people is low
  • The youth is highly trustful of the EU and NATO
  • Young people are generally apolitical in the region, unless issues arise that profoundly affect them
  • The youth is more aligned with topics and issues than political institutions
  • Young men are more interested in joining political parties and holding office, while young women tend to be interested in demonstration, petitions
    • Traditional gender roles seem to be present in political participation
  • Young people are more sensitive towards corruption, climate change than the older generation
  • The younger generation feels that they are excluded from the scope of political discourse
  • The quality of education has an influence over attitudes towards democracy

Policy recommendations

  • Creation of political organizations that help translate young people’s needs into political action
  • Political institutions should focus more on catering to the needs and interests of young people apart from mainstream political issues
  • Progressive political forces could exploit opportunities and the support of young people by paying more attention to issues important to the youth (e.g. climate change)


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