In the hypothetical situation that a 16 or 17-year-old is elected as a local council mayor, changes will be required to existing legislation, according to Vote 16 committee chairperson Andrew Debattista. Yesterday morning, Parliamentary Secretary for Reform Julia Farrugia Portelli launched a consultation document on voting rights for 16-year-olds, called ‘Vote 16; Empowering Youth’. In the previous legislature, 16-year-olds voted in local council elections, and now there are plans to extend these rights to general elections and those for the European Parliament. The document also questions whether such youngsters could be allowed to contest local elections, with the possibility of becoming mayors if they have the highest number of votes.
In an opinion piece sent to The Malta Independent on Sunday (see page 16), Debattista spoke about the consultation document. “We need to have faith in the educational system, which is bringing up the young people of today and thinking that they can contribute more,” he wrote. “Our country, which is being exposed to unprecedented economic growth, needs to use all its human resources.
“This is why the consultation document launched last Saturday is also testing the waters and asking whether 16 and 17-year-olds should contest local council elections and possibly be elected as mayors,” he continued, adding “one understands that, in the latter scenario, a legislative overhaul will be required.”
Debattista goes on to say that he believes the initiative should work alongside an educational campaign. “Vote 16 should be an initiative built side-by-side with an educational campaign to inspire young people who have never had any support to take an active part in politics,” he said. “This would not only benefit the young people but ultimately the country.