The government has just started a consultation process on giving 16 year olds the right to vote in general and European Parliament elections. So far 16 year old citizens can vote in local council elections but cannot stand for the same election. These changes could see 16-year old stand for election and elected mayors if they manage to garner most votes in a local election.
There is no doubt that thanks to to a higher level of education our youngsters have generally become much more mature at a younger age. In the age of the internet our kids are more exposed to what is happening around them, in the world and in Malta. We may have the impression that our children are reading less (it is true if by reading we only mean reading books), do not watch tv particularly news (it may be true if by watching news mean watching it on tv) and that they have a i-don’t-care-less attitude.
For this reason I think giving this new right to our children is a step in the right direction. I hope that our citizens, including young people themselves, participate in this process. Looking at some young politicians on both sides of Parliament, , I see many upcoming bright young and energetic politicians. I dare mention two of them: Ian Borg (PL) and Ryan Callus (PN). Both of them became politically active at a very young age and as a result became among the youngest, if not the youngest, to be elected. Ian has now become a minister and entrusted with one of the largest ministries. Ryan has been given very prominent roles within the shadow cabinet. Both of them started their political at a local level. Their story could be the story of future politicians including those who will be able to stand for elections at 16.
Let’s give our youngsters the right to vote in all elections. Let’s give them the right to stand for elections. But let us help them along the way. Let our schools promote discussion rather than imposition of ideas. Let our schools provide students with the opportunity to improve their public speaking. Let our schools help children become media savvy and not limit themselves to posting comments on Facebook.
Looking forward to this milestone.