If You’re 16 And Maltese You Now Have The Right To Vote
Malta becomes one of the first countries in the world to grant voting rights to 16-year-olds
Malta will soon become one of the only countries in the world to grant full voting rights to 16 year olds, after Parliament unanimously backed slashing the national voting age by two years last night.
The decision places Malta within a small group of countries that grants suffrage to 16-year-olds - along with Austria, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba, and the tiny islands of Jersey and Guernsey. 16-year-olds can also vote in Serbia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina but only if they are employed.
Parliamentary secretary for reforms Julia Farrugia Portelli, who spearheaded the proposal, hailed Parliament’s decision as a historic day for Malta.
“We are convinced that 16-year-olds know what they want from life,” she said. “Just as they are capable of making decisions about their career and future, so too are they capable of choosing which direction the country should take.”
PN deputy leader David Agius said the Vote-16 Bill has been his dream ever since entering politics, while Partit Demokratiku MP Godfrey Farrugia claimed lowering the voting age will breathe new life into Maltese politics.
The law was welcomed by youth organisations, who packed the Strangers’ Gallery to watch the parliamentary debate unfold.
“Whoever told us that youths don’t care about politics should look at the Strangers’ Gallery in Parliament, which isn’t empty as it usually is but is rather packed with youths who came to watch history being written,” the Labour Party’s youth forum president Naomi Cachia said.
While the president of youth political group SDM shared her sentiments, he also questioned why so few MPs were present in Parliament to see the vote pass.
“I must point out that I am slightly disappointed that the MPs present could be practically counted on one hand,” Neil Smart Costantino said. “Not even the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader were present during the discussion on such an important step forward for our country. With so many youths present in the House, I think that this was a perfect opportunity for both of them to exhibit the great side of politics and the positive impact that it can have on society, especially through youth involvement.”