Austrian School Students Settle the Score
At the beginning of the press conference chairman Igor Mitschka, who is sixteen years old, declared: 'For five years we have been campaigning for a better education system for our fellow-pupils, and what we have learnt from our political parties during this time is disillusioning.' He went on: 'We have learnt that if you are a child or a young person they don't take you seriously, and you cannot have any influence. Under such circumstances it is not in the least surprising that many children and young people have had enough of politics and are fed up with it.'
The association's last dealings with the education minister and her shadows in the other four parties took place in January and February 2008. They asked for written responses to their main demands, principally concerned with democratic class meetings and school parliaments and pupil representation in other decision-making bodies. Their experience of politics over the last few years combined with the written responses has turned out be totally negative: 'Some parties ignore us, others spread lies about our association, others keep saying that they are on our side but do very little to show it – and lastly there are also some who promised things before the election, which they no longer stand for after the election.' That was the opinion of the ten representatives at the press conference, ranging in age from fifteen-year-old national co-ordinator Julie Lecorné to ten-year-old board member Penelope Ziegler.
The association will nevertheless remain active and continue to campaign for children and young people in Austria to be taken seriously.