Berlin’s local government has lowered the voting age for its regional elections to 16 years.
Efforts to expand suffrage to younger voters have been taking place across Europe, with both Germany and Belgium joining Austria, Greece and Malta in extending voting rights to 16-year-olds for the EU elections earlier this year.
According to a report by Tagesschau, the Berlin change was backed by both the ruling coalition of the CDU and SPD, with support also being given from the Greens and Die Linke.
“Young people will have to bear the political consequences for the longest time,” 23-year-old Greens politician Klara Schedlich said regarding the move.
“Now they will also be involved in the decisions.”
The move is expected to add another 50,000 potential voters to the electorate.
Not within living memory has the State done such a thorough job of crushing the spirit of the young, leaving them “hollowed out” by the experience, writes @jrfjeffrey.@SelfHarmRes | @Raphfel | #OliverTearle https://t.co/ZArUKtsuGY
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) September 29, 2023
Many members of the European Parliament are also supportive of the idea, with a legislative proposal on implementing a European Union-wide voting age of 16 for European elections currently being pushed through Parliament.
The European Council is less keen on such a change. A leaked internal report from earlier in the year found most national governments in the EU were against reducing the voting age.
If such a change does come to pass it is not clear what impact, if any, the move would have on European politics.
While younger voters appear to trend leftwards in much of the Anglosphere, EU nations have seen a sudden lurch to the Right among the current youngest voters.
Indeed, 18-30-year-olds were key to a recent AfD surge in the German states of Hesse and Bavaria this year, although the party has struggled to appeal to younger people in other parts of the country.
France has also seen younger voters shift to the Right. Many under-25s now opt to vote for Rassemblement National and Reconquête rather than centrist or left-wing groups, such as French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance.
Germany should start handing out €20,000 in cash to citizens when they turn 18 years of age, a government minister has argued. https://t.co/SdAD6Ov1Pe
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 3, 2023