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Cabinet Backs Lowering Voting Age in Local Elections

Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

The government today decided to back a bill to allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections, a move that would require amendments to the Constitution.

The change in the Constitution would need the approval of two parliaments, which means if current MPs agree with the change, 24,000 more people will be able to vote at the 2017 municipal elections.

The idea has been debated for years with only the Center Party voicing opposition. The bill was submitted with signatures by 29 Reform Party and 12 Social Democrat MPs.

Center Party MP Viktor Vassiljev said in May he is against the idea as young people have other things on their mind, and only a fifth would bother to vote. He said young people interested in politics should join parties' youth organizations, where they can learn the ropes, drawing parallels with driving where 16-year-olds may only drive a car in Estonia when accompanied by an adult.

Coalition and IRL politicians have said young people are mature enough in making such decisions and the society would be more open with a lower voting age.

The move would also bring more young people into politics and balance out Estonia's aging society, they said.

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