THE government said it is looking to lower the minimum age for voting to 16-years-old which would ‘align Gibraltar with numerous progressive democracies around the world’.
Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia of the Liberal party has now published a consultation paper ‘to seek the public’s opinion’ on the matter before being discussed in parliament.
The GSLP/Liberal Alliance has committed to lowering the voting age, currently at 18, in the manifesto before the October 12 election.
It follows the abortion referendum on June 24, 2021, which gave the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds for the first time.
The consultation paper puts across the arguments for and against the argument to give more teenagers the vote than ever before.
“Lowering the voting age recognises the maturity and political engagement of our youth,” it reads.
“It empowers them to actively participate in shaping the future of our nation, ensuring that their voices are heard, and their concerns addressed.”
The UK only lowered the minimum voting age from 21-years-old to 18 in the 1970s.
More recenty, both Scotland and Wales raised the voting age to 16 for their respective parliaments.
The paper pointed out that ‘many young people are politically active’ in topics such as ‘climate change’ and democracy needs them to ‘have a say’ in the future of the nation.
But it also raised the arguments of critics that they ‘do not have the political knowledge, maturity and independence of thought required to vote’.
Other arguments against lowering the voting age include the possibility that they can ‘be influenced by advertising or social media’.
‘The Government has delivered on this manifesto commitment soon after the General Election precisely because of its importance to Gibraltar’s democratic system and institutions,” Garcia said.
“The arguments both for and against are complex, persuasive and varied, and it is important that the views of Gibraltar’s voters are properly considered by the Parliament in its deliberations.”
He urged ‘the public’s engagement’ in this ‘important’ democratic process via email.
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