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!

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

FROM THE FIELD: ‘A piece of me’ was taken

Companies ‘failing’ to address offline harm incited by online hate: UN expert

Facilitating the access to finance and risk capital for SMEs and midcaps

Easing US-China trade tensions could save millions of jobs: Asia-Pacific UN report

UN rights experts call on Russia to release Ukrainian film-maker whose life is in ‘imminent danger’

The Netherlands is paying people to cycle to work

10 of Albert Einstein’s best quotes

More bank bailouts at taxpayers’ expenses

Water supply a human right but Greeks to lose their functioning utilities

Health is nothing but the main consequence of climate change

Two peacekeepers killed in an attack against UN convoy in Mali

More, not less, multilateralism is needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic

The decline of our oceans is accelerating, but it’s not too late to stop it

3 ways blockchain can accelerate sustainable development

The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming

Why do medical students seek for work abroad?

Why are the financial markets shivering again?

COVID-19 is more deadly for some ethnic groups

Why Europe is more competitive than the US

IMF: Sorry Greece it was a mistake of 11% of your GDP

UN underscores the need to celebrate indigenous peoples, not confine them

‘Step backwards’ for Bosnia’s autonomous Serb region as assembly reneges on Srebrenica genocide report

Parliament to vote on new European Commission on 27 November

Here are 3 alternative visions for the future of work

MEPs want to fund crucial areas to stimulate European growth

Discrimination in the medical curriculum: are medical schools providing students with equal access to the medical profession?

As Marvel’s first comic book fetches $1.26 million, here are five things to know about the superhero business

EU4FairWork: Commission launches campaign to tackle undeclared work

3 reasons why AI won’t replace human translators… yet

OECD economic scenarios to 2060 illustrate the long-run benefits of structural reforms

European Defence Fund on track with €525 million for Eurodrone and other joint research and industrial projects

UN rights office calls for action to end ‘repression and retaliation’ in crisis-torn Nicaragua

UN Climate Action Summit concludes with insufficient EU and global pledges

Greek-Turkish border: MEPs reject Turkey’s pressure, demand common asylum rules

How to turn a traditional business into a platform-based success

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ford trumpets new in-vehicle system, “fundamentally rethinks” transportation

China-EU Relations: Broader, Higher and Stronger

Monday’s Daily Brief: global homicide figures, neo-Nazi recruitment, Kashmir, and migrants’ plight in USA

World ‘not yet on track’ to ensure children a better future: UN rights chief

EU approves close to €240 million to strengthen resilience in neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees in light of the coronavirus pandemic

Why medical students decide to study abroad?

Humanitarian migration falls while labour and family migration rises

Here’s how to achieve an optimal student/tutor ratio

Plastic Oceans: MEPs back EU ban on polluting throwaway plastics by 2021

“America first” policy goes against EU-US partnership, say MEPs

The planet’s health is our health: why healthcare must go green

How do we build trust between humans and AI?

At this Italian bookshop, children swap their recycling for something to read

Posting of workers: final vote on equal pay and working conditions

Cambodia loses duty-free access to the EU market over human rights concerns

This is where obesity places the biggest burden on healthcare

Statistics show the ugly face of youth training schemes

Vaccination: European Commission and World Health Organization join forces to promote the benefits of vaccines

Cameron readies to support ‘yes’ for Britain in the EU

New Zealand Prime Minister opens door to 4-day working week

Will Merkel ever steer the EU migration Titanic and restore her power in Germany?

3.7 million lives could be saved by 2025 if health services ramp up nutrition actions: WHO

How to create a world where healthcare is a right, not a luxury

Closing VAT loopholes for sales through online platforms

This massive project in Spain is the latest milestone in Europe’s solar power boom

More Stings?

Advertising

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