2017 - Ongoing
12-year-old Michelle is one of the youngest Mayors in Italy. “A voice for us” is the political slogan for Michelle’s second electoral campaign in Castel San Pietro Terme. An Italian Parliament law set up the participation of children in political bodies in 1997. Children’s Municipal Councils are organized in the same way as any Adult City Council. Together, these young people decide which social initiatives they should take to the Adult Council meetings. In this way, children are taking an active part in the social life of their small towns.
Castel San Pietro Terme is one of only 151 municipalities (1%), which have such a democratic group out of a total of 7954 Italian Municipalities. In Europe, you can find them in France, Croatia, Romania, Hungary and Switzerland. The average age of these groups is between 9 and 14. Michelle was elected Deputy Mayor two years ago at the age of 10.
Michelle is not a child prodigy; she is an ordinary young girl, bursting with positivity and passion. She has projects and plans and she knows what she wants to achieve. She wants to make sure that local traditions, such as homemade pasta and the local dialect, do not fade into the past. She wants to save the planet from plastic spread, dreaming the world a better place to live in the future.
For millennia, humans have always felt the need to live in a society with others. In the 4th Century B.C. Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a political animal” because the typical form of social life is “poleis”. Politics comes from this ancient Greek word.
Michelle and her friends are the citizens of tomorrow. They play together, they dream and they start thinking about politics, from a very young age. This is not the divisive politics of the left and the right but the politics of productive debate and bringing people together. They identify with the concept of internationalism and globalism. Not long from now, they will be helping society adjust to the myriad of opportunities that the future will bring.
I want to extend my work in France because Children’s Municipal Councils first were born there in 1979 and it could be interesting to compare how children in different country of Europe are thinking about.