Following a judgment by the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, unveiled, Monday, November 21, a draft bill to open the right to vote to the youngest. The court ruled that the current voting age of 18 violates the rights of younger people, prompting the government to consider lowering it to 16.
This change would be difficult to adopt and could not be applied before the general election of 2023, warned the Prime Minister. “I personally support a lowering of the age, but it is not a question that concerns me or even [qui concerne] the government “she told reporters in Wellington. “Any change to the electoral law of this nature requires the support of 75% of parliamentarians. This is why, in our opinion, this is a question rather intended for Parliament, so that everyone can express themselves”she added.
Monday’s ruling marks the end of two years of debates launched by the group of young activists Make it 16 (“Pass it at 16”). But only Parliament can lower the voting age. The ruling means young people’s rights are currently being violated, forcing New Zealand lawmakers to consider whether to change.
Only a handful of countries in the world allow their citizens to vote from the age of 16, notably Brazil. Scholars have found that lowering the voting age tends to increase political engagement, but the results differ from country to country.