Children as young as 12 have become a new political force in the Dominican Republic, which just held an election on Sunday with Danilo Medina edging out former President Hipolito Mejia amid accusations of fraud.
These miniature politicians have come together to form a “youth council,” which has been spreading many democratic ideals throughout the Caribbean island, as described in a piece on BBC. One youth mayor noticed that the children in his town were becoming very ill due to the contaminated water supply and decided to step in. “I couldn’t put up with these children having diseases. I saw adults couldn’t fix this so I decided to fix it with the municipal youth council,” said the 15-year-old mayor. The youth council was successful in obtaining a brand new water tank for the town, putting a halt to the vast diseases that were infecting the children.
Each council member was elected “by the children, for the children,” giving the youth a chance to see just how much power they had in their hometowns. Currently, more than 85 percent of the younger generation is coming to the polls to vote on who the next youth council member will be in their local elections. Ayacx Mercedes, a youth counselor, said that this “creates more democratic citizens, more democratic structure, more democratic processes.”
One 12-year-old town counselor said, “Unlike adult politicians we can’t bribe people… we can only teach them how to make a fair campaign.” Another member of the counsel admitted he was fed up with the politics of the older generation, claiming they were only concerned with money. Mercedes shared with BBC that there were a lot of “deficits in terms of social provision, but the fact that a new generation of children is engaging is creating a new political culture.”