Hopeful politicians would have voters believe that the future is at stake in every election.

But in the case of the election kicking off this week, that promise holds a bit more water.

Voting opened on Monday for the new Scottish Youth Parliament.

Every two years, 164 young people are elected to sit on the Scottish Youth Parliament and champion the issues chosen by their peers. There are more than 300 candidates standing for election this year.

Originally established in 1999, the Scottish Youth Parliament works alongside Holyrood and local authorities to be a direct voice for young people in Scotland.

Many former members have moved on to establish themselves in the public sphere. Some in Holyrood and Westminster, and others in local organisations much closer to home.

Ross Greer, current Scottish Green MSP for West Scotland, said that he owes his career to his time in the Scottish Youth Parliament, which he called "the most effective youth-led advocacy organisation in the UK.

"No other youth assembly on these islands has the same record of success when it comes to changing the law and materially improving the lives of young people.

"My experience as an MSYP certainly made me a more effective campaigner and advocate for the causes I care passionately about.

"I know how life-changing it was for many other MSYPs too, and not just those who ended up working in politics."

But the Scottish Youth Parliament isn’t just for turning out future politicians, Mr Greer added. 

He called it a "privilege" to now work alongside MSYPs and said they have been influential in major decisions that have benefitted young people.

When the SQA's grading policy was called into question in 2020, MSYPs provided critical input that led to a restoration of hundreds of thousands of previously downgraded results.

Read more: John Swinney's SQA U-Turn: Seven things you need to know

"Their voice certainly isn't given enough weight by many of those holding the levers of power, but many MSYPs do an excellent job of being impossible to ignore, as those 125,000 restored grades demonstrate."

The Herald: Ross Greer

In 2012, ahead of the crunch 2014 Scottish Referendum, the Scottish Youth Parliament made “Votes at 16” its priority campaign.

As a result, 16-and 17-year-olds were given the right to vote on the question of independence. By 2016, they were eligible to vote in all Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Mollie McGoran MSYP, chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, encouraged young people to go online and read about the candidates standing in their area.

“This is an exciting opportunity for young people across Scotland to make their voice heard by voting to elect their new MSYPs who will represent them for the next two years.

“I want to thank all of the candidates across the country who have dedicated their time so far to register for the elections and receive training – I wish them all the best with their campaigning!”

Voting for the new Scottish Youth Parliament term began on Monday.

The election will run until November 20, when winners will be announced to coincide with World Children’s Day.

Anyone between the ages of 14-25 is eligible to stand for election. Anyone ages 12-25 can vote for their MSYP in person at polling places organised by local authorities.

MSYPs represent all 73 constituencies in Scotland. There are two MSYPs for each constituency and another two for each of nine associated voluntary organisations

These represent groups such as young carers, care-experienced young people and LGBT+ young people.

All candidates received two months of training ahead of this year’s campaign.

Winners will undergo further training before officially taking up their posts.

In an effort to make voting more accessible, young people can also use their Young Scot National Entitlement Card to vote online.

Kirsten Urquhart BEM, chief executive at national youth information charity Young Scot – one of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s partners – said that online voting should enhance the Scottish Youth Parliament and Young Scot’s mission.

Full details on how to cast your vote in this year’s election, and information on candidates in every constituency, can be found on the Scottish Youth Parliament website.