Jacinda Ardern on 16yos voting: New Zealand prime minister backs lowering age amid opposition

Jacinda Ardern backs giving 16-year-old kids the vote in New Zealand – but she faces a massive uphill battle to try and get it through parliament

  • Jacinda Arden has put her support behind lowering the age to vote in NZ to 16
  • The Supreme Court ruled not giving 16, 17 year olds the vote is discriminatory 
  • For the legislation to pass, it needs 75 per cent from New Zealand parliament
  • The Nationals party, who hold 27.5 per cent of parliament, oppose the idea 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has come out in support of letting Kiwi kids head to the polls as soon as they turn 16. 

Ms Ardern’s support came after a three-year legal battle from youth campaigners ‘Make it 16’ went all the way up to New Zealand’s Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that prohibiting 16 and 17-year-olds from voting was inconsistent with the 1993 New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and therefore a breach of human rights.

Almost immediately after the ruling, Ms Ardern unveiled a draft legislature that would introduce a bill to parliament to lower the legal voting age to 16 and promised to personally back the bill.

‘I personally support a decrease in the voting age,’ she told reporters.

‘For me, it’s an alignment for some of the responsibilities and rights that are already portioned out at these different ages. But look, I accept different politicians will have different views.’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (above) has fully supported a lowering of the voting age. However, faces a battle to get opposition ministers onside for the legislature to pass.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (above) has fully supported a lowering of the voting age. However, faces a battle to get opposition ministers onside for the legislature to pass.

For the bill to pass, 75 per cent of New Zealand’s 120-seat parliament must vote in support. 

Ms Ardern’s Labor Party and the Greens Party make up only 74 of the required 90 seats.

For the bill to pass, Ms Ardern would need the 16 ministers from the crossbench and the National party to support her – which they currently do not.

‘Obviously we’ve got to draw the line somewhere,’ Opposition and Nationals leader Christopher Luxon said.

‘We’re comfortable with the line being 18. Lots of different countries have different places where the line’s drawn and from our point of view, 18 is just fine.’

Eleven countries worldwide have a voting age of 16, including Argentina, Austria, Brazil and the Isle of Mann, with Canada introducing a bill to their parliament that could see it lower their voting age to 16 as well.

Some academics have found that lowering the voting age to 16 increases political involvement. 

However with such a low sample size, results have varied from nation to nation.

'Make it 16' co-director Caeden Tipler (above) says that the inconsistencies between the voting age and discrimination law mean not allowing 16-year-old's to vote is a breach of human rights

‘Make it 16’ co-director Caeden Tipler (above) says that the inconsistencies between the voting age and discrimination law mean not allowing 16-year-old’s to vote is a breach of human rights

In an Instagram post, Make it 16 co-director Caeden Tipler described the Supreme Court decision as ‘history’.

‘If the government does not make the voting age 16 now then they are consciously breaching out human rights,’ Ms Tipler wrote.

‘The government can no longer ignore such clear a legal and moral message, they must let us vote.’

The Make it 16 website urges the nation to drop the voting age.

‘We [New Zealanders] pride ourselves on being the first country in the world to give women the right to vote, and although there are at least a dozen countries with a voting age of 16 already, we can be next,’ the website said.

The debate online has split the general public, with posts ranging from ‘Jacinda Ardern. The most devious, sly, dishonest politician ever’ to ‘WOOP! Huge win for Rangatahi [Maori for young people]’.

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