Young Belgians will now be able (and will have to) vote from the age of 16

Young Belgians will now be able (and will have to) vote from the age of 16

Just under 270,000 young voters will gather at the polls on June 9, to vote in the European elections: the first of their kind in the Belgian Kingdom.

An article he wrote

France Info – Jean-Jacques Herry

Radio France


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Belgian citizens in the voting booth during the 2010 Belgian federal elections. (B.ND / MAXPPP)

The European elections will be held at the beginning of next June HMember states of the Union. This year, something new in Belgium: it will be possible to vote starting at the age of 16, only for these elections. It is the first time in the Kingdom to see young voters taking their places at the ballot box.

There is no exception for these new voters: as in most elections in Belgium, voting will be compulsory for them as well. The Belgian Constitutional Court issued a decision ten days ago. But for these Belgian minors There are about 270,000, or 2.9% of the electorate Unlike adults, there will be no punishment if they do not fulfill their civic duty.

“It's our voice, as teenagers and 16-year-olds. It's important.”

Maysan is 16 years old. She's in the fifth year of secondary school, the equivalent of a first, and will soon receive a summons in her mailbox to go vote, like the older one. The girl admits that she is a little lost. He added: “Participation in the European elections is still important, that’s all.” ? It's mandatory, that's all ? It's the beginning of June, that's all ? We are not very knowledgeable at school…” It's enough to make her sister Mylène react, much more motivated than her by the idea of ​​finding herself in the voting booth.

“It prepares us for later to become interested in politics little by little.”

Mylène, a Belgian miner

In France Info

“I signed up for accounts on Instagram that told me ‘this political party, this is their project,’ and now I’ve discovered it. I won’t vote for just anyone, I will vote for something that interests me.” Developing…the European Union, is this it? Mylene continues. Her sister Maysan responds by saying: “Now that you say that, it's important. It's our voice, as teenagers and 16-year-olds. It's important !

“We did not have enough experience to vote. I will go because we are bound by the law.”

An enthusiasm not yet contagious enough to dispel doubts of the new voter Tom will soon be. “I think we are not yet mature enough at the age of 16, and we are not experienced enough to vote. I will go because we are bound by the law.” So there is some confusion. It must be said that the voting methods for 16-17 year olds have changed several times.

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It was initially voluntary, completing the voluntary registration process to appear on electoral rolls. Then registration became automatic. Finally, the Belgian Constitutional Court made voting for minors compulsory, as is the case for all Belgian citizens, with the difference that they will not be subjected to punishment if they are absent from the voting booth.

“They are not at all prepared to vote on June 9.”

The arduous implementation is detrimental to the measure, believes political scientist Bernard Fournier, a teacher at the École Supérieure de l'École de Liège: “This procedure can be helpful if accompanied by some learning about the policy.

“The sad thing is that schools will not have time to talk much to young people about their new right to vote, as they are not at all prepared to vote on June 9.”

Bernard Fournier, political scientist

In France Info

The political world still hopes for the success of the Belgian experiment. He says he is convinced: “We are, after all, heading towards a general lowering of the voting age in all elections.”

In Belgium, voting for minors from the age of 16: report by Jean-Jacques Heré

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