Today, the Riigikogu passed the legislative amendments that give young people aged 16 and 17 years the right to vote in local government council elections.
This way, the Riigikogu brought the Local Government Council Election Act and the associated Acts into conformity with the Constitution.
55 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motions to amend initiated by the Constitutional Committee, 30 were against and four abstained.
Representatives of factions who took the floor during the debate presented their positions.
Lauri Luik said on behalf of the Reform Party faction that the Act is a sign of trust towards young people. “The larger part of our society is involved in the development of our life, the better,” Luik said. He said that young people have clearly expressed their wish to have a say, and this Bill had been their initiative.
The Act will enable 24 000 young people aged 16-17 to have a say in local elections starting from 2017, Luik said.
Luik pointed out the positive effects of the Act, and noted that the lowering of the voting age would help increase the participation of young people in elections but would also teach them to make decisions and take responsibility.
Kadri Simson explained why the Centre Party faction voted against the Act. She said that young people would be given the right to vote and many of them would use it, but they would not be entrusted with the possibility to stand as a candidate.
The representative of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party faction Mart Helme expressed the opinion that the lowering of the voting age may bring the propaganda of political parties to schools.
The representative of the Social Democratic Party faction Kalvi Kõva drew attention to the fact that the Riigikogu has already amended the Constitution in this issue. This matter must be pursued to the end and young people must be given the right to vote.
The representative of the Free Party faction Jüri Adams said that the right to lower the voting age had been given with the constitutional amendment but this Act sets out how the right to vote is excluded for the few hundreds of young people who cannot go to vote due to their intellectual disability.
The Act (139 SE) which was passed today is based on the amendment to subsection 156 (2) of the Constitution that entered into force on 13 August 2015. The Bill with a similar content (42 SE) was not passed at the plenary sitting on 10 November last year because the Bill failed to gain the 51 votes in favour necessary for passing.
The Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act (116 SE), submitted by the Estonian Centre Party faction, was not supported at the first reading. The aim was to amend the current Act so that, upon the making of a proposal presented to a committee or committees of the Riigikogu in a collective address, the Riigikogu should resolve the problem raised in the address independently and separately from the guidelines of the executive power.
Külliki Kübarsepp who took the floor during the debate presented the positions of the Free Party faction.
50 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the rejection of the Bill and 36 were against. It was dropped from the proceedings.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/et/201601141000
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
The archive of the Riigikogu press releases and sitting reviews is located at – https://www.riigikogu.ee/en/news-and-publications/news-press-releases/press-releases/
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