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Vote at 16: Time to give young people a clear say in politics

YO! Mag

Magazine of the European Youth Forum, a platform of European youth organisations. Follow us for insights into the lives of young Europeans


Written byAi??Carina Autengruber (Vice-President of theAi??European Youth Forum)

I was 17 years old when Austria passed the law to implement vote at 16. Austria was the first country in the European Union to lower the voting age for European, national and local elections. In this article I am sharing my personal experiences as young voter and why Europe finally needs to lower the voting age.

Itai??i??s about democracy

Our society faces a problem of democracy. 16 and 17 year olds are excluded from traditional decision-making. It deprives young people of their human rights ai??i?? their right to vote and their right to participate. It also deepens the imbalance of the generational distribution of political power. Our democracy is weak without the voice of young people. Democracy depends on the participation of all citizens, including young people. Engagement at a young age in democratic processes cannot be ignored but must be encouraged. Vote at 16 is one of the key instruments to give young people a clear say in politics.

Itai??i??s about our rights

At the age of 16 I got my first summer job. I paid taxes. In the same year my friends started taking driving lessons and already a year before I had decided about my education after secondary school. A lot of important steps for a young person, right? Not being allowed to vote at a young age means an imbalance between rights and responsibilities. Young people make important and informed decisions in their lives, which must also include the right to vote at the age of 16.

Before the national election took place I was able to take part in hearings and discussions with candidates. When vote at 16 was implemented in Austria, politicians shifted their focus to the political interest of younger age groups. Finally topics specifically relevant for young people were debated. Therefore, lowering the voting age to 16 contributes to more youthful political agendas.

The first time when I cast my vote I was still living with my parents. Voting is a social activity and statistics prove that when young people cast their vote for the first time when still living at home, they are more likely to develop a habit of voting. At the same time studies also confirm that young people cast their vote independently from their parents and become informed in a variety of ways, showing their willingness to engage actively with political issues.

Due to new technologies, we are more informed than ever before. We have the tools to search for information and to campaign on issues that affect us. And letai??i??s not forget: the debate is not about who a 16 or 17-year-old may vote for, but about the right to participate. As young people we are the experts of our living situations and are able to make informed choices, including voting in elections.

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Political participation isnai??i??t a punctual activity but a holistic, a life-long process that accompanies us in our daily life. To lower the voting age to 16 is an important step to strengthen democracy. It needs to be accompanied by civic education in schools and the crucial role of youth organisations and non-formal education, which needs to be strengthened. Furthermore political parties need to push for change from within the political system and nominate more young people for decision-making positions.

Young people need to be given the space where we can engage as active citizens. More governments need to follow the example of Austria and give young 16 and 17 years old their right to vote. Democracy needs to be strengthened by raising informed long term voters. And we all know that this has to happen sooner than later. Itai??i??s about time to Youth Up democracy! NOW! buy Super Tadarise, acquire clomid.

YO! Mag

Magazine of the European Youth Forum, a platform of European youth organisations. Follow us for insights into the lives of young Europeans

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