People from the age of 16 in Belgium will be allowed to vote in the European elections starting from 2024 after a bill to introduce the right to vote for people of younger age was put into practice, De Morgen reports.
The joint bill, which was introduced by the Green party and the Flemish liberal party Open Vld, was finalised in the federal coalition agreement at the end of last year, and aims to “restore confidence in politics and to ensure that the concerns of young people are given more weight in decision-making.”
“Extending the right to vote can only strengthen our democracy. The granting of the right to vote from the age of 16 in the European elections is the first step in this direction”, parliamentarians Guillaume Defossé, Kristof Calvo, Egbert Lachaert, and Patrick Dewael, who tabled the bill, said in a statement.
This change is currently only being made to the voting rights for the European elections as this requires a simple majority, whereas a two-thirds majority is needed to alter the voting age for the federal elections, as the constitution has to be changed to do so.
People under the age of 18 will have to add their name to the electoral register before being allowed to vote.
According to Defossé, this is a strong act for the young generations who have “shown more than once in recent years their incredible capacity to mobilise and their interest in public affairs. The sooner we concretise this agreement, the sooner we can renew the link between young people and the political world,” he said.
Ahmed Laaouej of the French-speaking socialist PS party said his party was in favour of the measure but emphasised that the lowering of the voting age should also be accompanied by the obligation to vote from the age of 16, as it is imposed on other citizens.
The Brussels Times