Vote at 16 in Malta: next stop Europe

Luis Alvarado Martinez

Luis Alvarado Martinez is the President of the European Youth Forum (EYF, 2018)

European Youth Insights is a platform provided by the European Youth Forum and the European Sting, to allow young people to air their views on issues that matter to them. The following article is written by Mr Luis Alvarado Martinez,  President of the European Youth Forum, the biggest umbrella youth organisation in Europe and the world.

“Ask not how politics will influence young people – instead ask how young people can influence politics.”

While this might not be exactly the wording of Kennedy’s famous quote, it was certainly this powerful approach that led Malta to become the 2nd European country to lower the voting age to 16 for all levels of elections just last month.

This is a massive success for youth rights. But the thing is, not everyone is happy about it.

It seems bizarre that while on one hand our elected leaders complain about the lack of involvement of young people in politics, they simultaneously on the other block one of the key ways to truly involve them.

There are numerous arguments as to the benefits of lowering the legal voting age to sixteen. Young people are already by this age knowledgeable, engaged and active in their communities. Combined with quality citizenship education, introducing young people to the process of voting and participating in democratic systems can make them more likely to continue on this path throughout their lifetime. At the age of sixteen, young people can already be part of the workforce and independently making decisions. Yet somehow, their opinion is often not considered to be valid in politics.

Lowering the voting age is not a new concept. Throughout our history, our democratic systems have been evolving. Always striving to become more inclusive, representative and fair. How then, can there such opposition to ensuring that both young and old have their opinions heard?

Granting the right to vote is much more than just a legal step. It is also symbolic of the acknowledgement of citizenship and shared responsibility for current and future issues.

Young people have the biggest stake of all in the decisions that are made on our behalf. Yet so many young people are denied a say issues that impact our lives. Young people are the generation most likely to be at risk of poverty and social exclusion. We are on the frontline when it comes to cuts in public services and austerity measures.

But there are signs of change. More and more countries are starting to see the benefits of lowering the voting age. While Austria has already celebrated ten years of including sixteen and seventeen year olds in elections, Estonia has also recently followed suit by lowering the voting age to sixteen in all local elections. In Scotland, young people had the opportunity to vote in the independence referendum sparking a surge in political engagement across the country. The conversation is also ongoing in Wales for local elections – we will be watching this space!

The disengaged youth myth Youth organisations and young people are leading the way to change. The recent vote in Malta could not have happened without the work and strong resolution of KNZ – the Maltese National Youth Council. In Ireland, despite the Bill to lower the voting age to 16 being blocked in the Seanad, the campaign is also far from over. As pointed out by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), it is not a matter of if it will happen, but when.

The fact is that this injection of young voices into our political systems is long overdue. For too long we have been excluded and faced barriers to participation. Not only with voting, but in all aspects of political life. If the Bill in Ireland had passed, it would have allowed over 126,000 young people to vote. A huge, important boost to not only to Irish democracy but to Europe as a whole.

The countdown is already on for the next European Parliament elections next year. We are the most pro-European generation. Imagine if we included the voices of thousands of young people with their fresh perspectives and determination to build a strong European continent together. It would be the ultimate game changer for the future of Europe.

The movement to include young people in elections from an earlier age and therefore establish stronger, more inclusive democracies is unstoppable.

Is vote at 16 beneficial for society? Yes. Are sixteen and seventeen year-olds entitled to have a stake in their future? Absolutely.  We’ve taken another great step forward with Malta. Now we need the rest of Europe to move forward with us!

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Syrian crisis is ‘clearest example’ of foreign investment in terrorism, Deputy Prime Minister says at UN

Can agroforestry save India’s rivers and the farms that depend on them?

UN Security Council ‘utterly failed’ Syrian detainees; a victim voices her plea to ‘end impunity and stop this horror’

Why sustainable packaging is good for profits as well as the planet

Cohesion Policy: EU invests €880 million to improve Poland’s railway system

Ethical education as an obligatory course in medical curriculum

UN human rights chief denounces grave ‘assaults’ on fundamental rights of Palestinian people

Is this 3D-printed building the future home for astronauts on Mars?

Terrorism and migrants: the two awful nightmares for Europe and Germany in 2016

UN space-based tool opens new horizons to track land-use on Earth’s surface

UN chief praises Japanese climate resilience, as Typhoon Hagibis cleanup begins

This AI outperformed 20 corporate lawyers at legal work

Refugees now make up 1% of the world’s population

It’s getting harder to move data abroad. Here’s why it matters and what we can do

A Sting Exclusive: “Our ambition is by 2020 Indonesia to become an emerging power of World’s Maritime Access”, reveals the Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Indonesia in Brussels, treating WEF, ASEAN and EU-Indonesia relations on the eve of the World Economic Forum East Asia 2015 in Jakarta

Vegans in France are using extreme tactics to stop people eating meat

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

These are the world’s most future-proof cities

Sudan: UN chief deplores excessive force used against pro-democracy protesters, calls on military and civilian leaders to ‘stay the course’ in negotiations

UN ‘determined to lead by example’ on disability rights: Guterres

Germany and France only care about keeping their borrowing cheap

EU Parliament semi worried over democratic deficit

Is co-living an answer to the affordable housing crisis?

Will Eurozone be able to repay its debts? Is a bubble forming there?

ILO warns of widespread insecurity in the global labour market

EU car manufacturers worry about an FTA with Japan

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: Banking moguls continue brandishing financial Armageddon to intimidate us all but in Davos they worry about the very distant future

UN chief welcomes start of Church-mediated national dialogue in Nicaragua

World Food Programme accesses Yemeni frontline district for first time since conflict began

Humanitarian Aid: additional €50 million to tackle drought in the Horn of Africa

Microplastics have been found in Rocky Mountain rainwater

Citizens to be the cornerstone of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Is sub-Saharan Africa ready for the electric vehicle revolution?

Syria: Thousands of children ‘hemmed in’ by ‘brutal and gratuitous’ spike in violence

Changing the EU copyright law won’t bring us much closer to Digital Single Market

5 futuristic ways to fight cyber attacks

IMF to teach Germany a Greek lesson

Here’s what keeps CEOs awake at night (and why it might be bad news for your next job)

EU: Huge surplus in the trade of services with the rest of the world

Europe’s dirty air kills 400,000 people every year

Here’s a reason to feel cheerful – the world is full of Good Samaritans

UN Member States overwhelmingly support end of US embargo against Cuba

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of L3 Technologies by Harris Corporation, subject to conditions

4 things President Trump could learn from Jimmy Carter

Reconciliation helps ‘repair fractures’, enable lasting peace, Security Council hears

EU Visa Policy: Commission welcomes agreement to strengthen EU visa rules

Guinea-Bissau: Upcoming elections vital to prevent ‘relapse’ into instability, says UN envoy

230 Junior Entrepreneurs and over 70 guests attended the International Congress on “Entrepreneurial Skills for Youth”

Manufacturers Get Smarter for Industry 4.0

Iraq protests: UN calls for national talks to break ‘vicious cycle’ of violence

The clothes of the future could be made from pineapples and bananas

Obese people more likely to smoke, says new gene research: WHO

This is why AI has a gender problem

UN chief hails victory of ‘political will’ in historic Republic of North Macedonia accord

Can self-charging batteries keep us connected for ever? A young scientist explains

Climate change and health: creating global awareness and using earth resources wisely

UN envoy says he ‘is ready to go to Idlib’ to help ensure civilian safety amid rising fears of government offensive

UN rights chief welcomes new text to protect rights of peasants and other rural workers

Anti-terror measures against youngsters’ online posts ‘linked to spike in child detention globally’

Tax evasion and fraud threaten the European project

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s