Justice minister Andres Anvelt said that 16-year-olds are socially mature enough to vote on their own. “It is also shown by the experiences of several other European countries, where in Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, as well as some of the German federal states the voting age has been lowered,” he said.
According to the law amendment, which requires a constitutional amendment, up to 24,000 new potential voters would be added in Estonia.
Lowering the voting age is not possible overnight and it requires the approval of two different sets of parliament. The next local elections are in 2017 and by that time it is possible to enforce the law.
In addition to the Justice Ministry, Interior Ministry also advised the government to support the bill, as it estimates that the proposed amendment will increase the interest of young people in the development of the state and local governments. “In a situation where it is at the local municipality level that most of the decisions affecting young people are made, it is very important that young people can take part in the decision-making in the local community,” the interior ministry said.