Germany lowers voting age to 16 for future EU elections

Germany lowers voting age to 16 for future EU elections

The German Bundestag has approved a motion to lower the legal voting age to 16 for elections to the European Parliament, on the basis that the younger generation is particularly affected by the decisions politicians are now making. The voting age for federal and state elections in most federal states will remain at 18 for now. 

16 and 17-year-olds allowed to vote in next European Parliament elections

For the first time ever in Germany, young people aged 16 and over will be allowed to cast their votes in the next European parliament elections - scheduled to take place in May 2024 - after the Bundestag approved a draft law to lower the minimum voting age.

The draft law, put forward by the traffic light coalition government, will increase the number of enfranchised people in the federal republic by almost 2,3 percent, in a bid to recognise the “political commitment” of many young people. The law’s text states that the previous minimum age of 18 excluded many people “who can and want to take on responsibility in numerous places in society and get involved in the political process.” 

Carmen Wegge, the deputy legal policy spokesperson for the SPD, explained to dpa that the younger generation had a right to political participation, having proven themselves to be engaged and vocal on a range of issues that particularly affect them - including climate change and the restructuring of the social security system

Minimum voting age to remain the same for federal elections in Germany

In some states in Germany, 16-year-olds are already allowed to vote in state and local elections, but the Basic Law stipulates a minimum voting age of 18 for the federal elections, meaning that the coalition government would have to garner votes from the opposition to support a move to lower the voting age for Bundestag elections - a policy which has been rejected by both the CDU / CSU union and the AfD. 

Three other EU countries have already lowered the voting age for European elections: in Austria, people aged 16 and over have been able to vote since 2007; in Malta the national voting age was lowered to 16 in 2018, and in Greece people above the age of 17 are allowed to vote. In May this year, the European Parliament recommended lowering the voting age to 16 across the bloc. . 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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