‘Democracy is developing little by little in Tunisia’

Najib Bourkhis says young people could use direct democratic tools to spread their political ideas zvg

Democracy will prevail over the threat of terrorism, says Najib Bourkhis, a young Swiss who has lived in Tunisia.

This content was published on February 20, 2016 - 09:00

The 20-year old from Djerba is a fresh voice of the Swiss Abroad community. gives the floor to leading members of the newly-founded online youth parliament. What do you want to achieve as a member of the new youth parliament of the Swiss abroad – first of all in Switzerland, and second in your country of residence?

Najib Bourkhis: I’m 20 years old and I was born in Herisau, in canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden in 1995. The first six years I lived there and went to kindergarten for one year. Then my family moved to Djerba, in Tunisia, where I went to school and got my Bachelor Certificate when I was 15. I moved back to Switzerland three months ago to complete my studies. But before I can do that I’m attending a German course. I’m really passionate about photography and I’m also learning to make short films. Politics, listening to music, hiking, psychology, swimming and sport in general are my hobbies. My connections to Switzerland other than my passport and citizenship are my relatives.

Najib Bourkhis: Being a member of the Youth Parliament of the Swiss AbroadExternal link (YPSA) is a great opportunity to get in touch with other Swiss abroad from our generation and from other cultures all around the world.

In Switzerland and through YPSA I want to get the youth motivated. So young people take part in votes because we need each vote to make progress.

In Tunisia I’d like to start a youth parliament, so all the young Swiss abroad there can participate in politics and get the opportunity to know their political rights a little bit better. What does direct democracy look like in your country of residence? Are there options that you especially appreciate? And ones that you miss having?

N.B.: There is no direct democracy in Tunisia. We have only lived in a democratic system since the 2011 revolution.

On November 23, 2014, we had our first democratic presidential election. It’s a big step to go forward and democracy is developing little by little in Tunisia. In most countries, young people vote less often than people of other age groups do. Isn’t direct democracy a prime agent for young people to communicate their political needs and ideas?

N.B.: One of the main reasons that young people vote less often than people of other age groups is that the text to vote on is a bit hard to understand.

Direct democracy could be a good solution to overcome this reluctance and give young people the opportunity to communicate their political needs and ideas. Since the attacks in Paris, Europe has been obsessed with the terrorism of the Islamic State group. Is the fight against Islamic extremists, which has led to the restriction of individual freedoms, a danger for democracies?

N.B.: Terrorism can never win over the freedom of expression.

Our power comes from the power of people, while they depend on the power of their leader.

When one of us falls down, we can still fight and go on, but when their leader falls down, they fall with him straight away.

Platform for young Swiss expats

The youth parliament of the Swiss Abroad was set up only a few months ago and is still in its infancy.

It’s primarily an online platform which brings together the about 350 members across the world for debates and other exchanges of ideas via social media and skype. interviewed 11 young Swiss expatriates who are leading members of the youth parliament. Our questions focus on issues of participatory citizenship in their countries of residence and in Switzerland.

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