Youth parliament elections launched
17:25, Mar 2 2013
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched the largest-ever elections to the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP).
Almost 300 candidates are standing for 146 seats, with voting starting on Monday and remaining open until March 15.
The SYP was set up in 1999 to provide a forum for young people to discuss political issues and give them a voice in the parliamentary system.
The candidates, who are all aged between 14 and 25, will spend the next two weeks campaigning for votes in their local authority areas. In the 2011 elections more than 84,000 votes were cast.
SYP chair Grant Costello said: "The last two years have been the most successful in the history of the Scottish Youth Parliament.
"We have taken the issues which matter to young people, on equal marriage, votes at 16 and the Scottish living wage, and made Scotland's leaders listen and act.
"It's now time for a new membership to be elected. For the first time MSYPs will be elected from every local authority in Scotland.
"We've had more interest from young people than ever before, more candidates than ever before and I am sure we're going to have an even stronger membership elected this time.
"That's crucial because the challenges facing Scotland's young people are enormous."
The voting is organised by each local authority and varies across the country, with some having ballots open from Monday to March 15 while others are only open for some of that period.