The Riigikogu passed the Act on amending the Constitution that lowers the voting age for local government council elections from the age of 18 to 16.
There are around 24,000 young people aged 16–17 years in Estonia. Presuming that on average 60 percent of them would participate in the elections, it could mean that there would be 14,000 to 15,000 more voters.
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia for Reducing the Voting Age for Local Government Council Elections (703 SE), initiated by 41 members of the Riigikogu, is to involve more young people than before in the discussion and deciding of public issues of local life.
The initiators of the Bill note in the explanatory memorandum that the Estonian society keeps aging, therefore the importance of senior voters is increasing in the elections and thus the age of the people that pass the decisions on the issues concerning the life of the young is ever growing. Lowering of voting age would increase the percentage of young people among the eligible voters.
In the opinion of the initiators of the Bill, the amendment would increase the interest of young people in politics, the state and the development of local government. It is the level of the local government council where most of the decisions concerning the young people are made – like the decisions on the schools network, sports facilities, possibilities for leisure activities.
Young people aged 16 and 17 years are able to cast their votes at the next local government councils elections in 2017.
In order to enter into force as an Act, the Bill had to be approved by two consecutive compositions of the Riigikogu. The previous, 12th Riigikogu approved the Bill on 11 February. The 13th Riigikogu passed the Act on 6 May 2015.
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