Lowering the voting age in Estonia
The Estonian population is ageing year by year. More people are getting older, less babies are born. In order to keep the balance in the democratic processes, Estonian National Youth Council as become up with an idea to lower the voting age from 18 to 16. Although in the beginning one might think that it is one of the most stupid ideas, more and more people and non-governmental organizations are supporting it.
As the process of lowering the voting age is long and complicated, the National Youth Council has come up with an idea of “Shadow Elections” – a project for youth where every at least 16 year old youngsters can vote before important national elections. The aim of the project is to introduce to youngsters how democracy works, show them that their voice matters and that they should care what is going on in their society.
This year the project is implemented the second time. Last time it was implemented just before the local elections. Unfortunately at that time the project was semi-ruined by the politicians. The biggest contributors to the project are the schools all around Estonia. As many of the headmasters of public schools belong to different political parties, they cancelled their participation in the project due to the threats from their fellow party members that they will not get funding if they will support the initiative. However, this did not stop the youth council.
Now we have the second phase of the project – Shadow Elections vol. 2. This time they are carried out just before the parliamentary elections taking place in March. We, the youngsters are glad that more and more schools and youth organizations have joined the project on one purpose – to show who would win if we could also have the voice of youth!
The system of the project is simple. All the schools and youth organizations interested in contributing to the project can join the team. After that several activities are carried out in the schools. For example, workshops about democratic processes or debates between the politicians. They all serve one aim – to make the decision making process clearer and more visible to youth. After that the youngsters old enough to vote can vote online (exactlyas it is done during the normal elections – each person has one vote with his / her ID card) for the candidates before the real elections after which the results are published in mass media just before the actual elections take place. If and how will they affect the results of the parliamentary elections and whether we are able to lower age one day, the time will show. But till then at least more and more youngsters are becoming aware of the political processes and our voice is made heard more.
Viimsi Youth Council is one of those organizations encouraging youngsters to vote in Shadow Elections and hoping to help out in the project on local level.
Project Manager & Newsmail Editor