A group of Tunisian youth politicians visited Finland in December. The study visit was part of the programme of the Tunisian School of Politics (TSoP), supported by Demo Finland and its partners. The group consisted of eight young politicians representing different political parties, and the aim of the visit was getting to know different aspects of Finnish society and democracy.
The programme of the study visit consisted of introductions to Finnish political history and present state, as well as other topics relevant to Finnish democracy. In addition, themes that are currently debated in Tunisia, like freedom of media and Constitution, were included in the programme. One day was dedicated to the Finnish Parliament, where the visitors had the chance for example to get to know young members of the Parliament and the work of the Constitutional Law Committee. The group also visited the city of Tampere, where they attended an event organised by Tampere Peace Research Institute TAPRI. A presentation of local governance structures in Finland and an introduction to the City Council of Tampere were also included in the visit. In Tampere, the group was welcomed by Sanna Marin, Chair of the City Council.
Finnish political youth and student organisations also participated in the programme of the study visit. The Tunisians had chances to meet with their Finnish colleagues for example in a mutual farewell evening hosted by the Finnish Centre Youth, and in an open event organised by the youth organisation of the Swedish People’s Party in Finland. The Tunisian delegation also participated in a seminar on political participation of Tunisian youth, organised by Demo Finland together with the Finnish Youth Research Network and Helsinki University. One of the speakers in the seminar was Professor Ahmed Driss, Director of the Tunisian School of Politics and Demo Finland’s local partner organisation CEMI. Two students from the TSoP, Amel Belkhiria and Ahmed Sellami, also attended a panel discussion in the seminar.
The young Tunisians especially enjoyed the meetings and experience sharing with Finnish politicians, and they were also interested in and surprised of the relatively high amount of trust and interaction between citizens and governance that Finland traditionally has had.
The study trip to Finland was the final activity of the year-long training that the participating students had attended in 2013. Students of another course that took place in the same time participated in a study trip to the Netherlands, where the group was hosted by Demo Finland’s partner organisation Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD).