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Vote at 16 in Belgium! New Government pledges to lower voting age for European Elections


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Christiana Xenofontos

Some positive news for 2020! The new Belgian Government announced this week that 16 and 17 year olds will finally be granted the right to vote in European elections.

Belgium will now be the third EU Member State after Austria and Malta to grant 16 year olds the right to vote at European level. The announcement has been years in the making, and is a testament to the hard work and strong voices of our Belgian Member Organisations, Le Forum des Jeunes, Rat der deutschsprachigen Jugend and Vlaamse Jeugdraad!

The Youth Forum is happy to see the initiative gaining momentum across Europe, with a growing number of countries and regions already implementing vote at 16, or discussing proposals to implement it, at national and local levels. The European Parliament also recognised the value of including 16 and 17 year olds in democratic elections when it endorsed the move to lower the voting age back in 2015.

Young people have the right to be meaningfully included in democratic processes. Combined with effective citizenship education that gives young people access to the information and tools that they need to engage, voting at 16 can have a powerful effect. Enabling citizens to build a habit of voting at a young age and engaging them in decisions that affect them, allows them to become more active, informed citizens throughout their lives.

The news from Belgium this week marks a great step forward, but why stop there? Youth rights are universal and young people are entitled to a say on elections at all levels of democracy. The European Youth Forum urges the Belgian Government to extend the proposal to include 16 and 17 year olds in all elections and hopes that more national governments will follow suit to build more representative democracies!

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