26 May 2015

Young people’s voices should be heard in the EU Referendum

Ahead of the introduction of the EU Referendum Bill to the UK Parliament, Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, has urged the UK Government to extend the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds. Louise said:

“The decision about whether the United Kingdom remains a part of the European Union or votes to leave, is a hugely important decision that 16- and 17-year-olds must be a part of.

“This is a decision that will affect our future. As a nation, we need a fair and accessible debate about the future of our EU membership, and we cannot possibly achieve that by excluding the voices of our country’s 16- and 17-year-olds.

“No longer can we continue to deny young people a voice and exclude them from shaping debates on so many issues that affect their lives. Young people are the future our country, and they are also here working hard, paying tax, starting families, and living their lives now – they deserve to have their say about their future, and not have it decided for them.

“The young people of Scotland proved, through their engagement in the referendum process, that they take their right to vote very seriously, and they have collectively crushed all of the myths and arguments against a lowered voting age.

“We know young people are engaged and enthusiastic about participating in democracy. We should be proud of this. We should be encouraging young people to have their say and shape their own futures. We should be focusing on engaging young people in politics and harnessing their enthusiasm, not sending messages that suggest their voices do not matter.

“As the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people, the Scottish Youth Parliament has always known that 16-and 17-year-olds are capable of making informed decisions when it comes to voting, and we have been campaigning for Votes at 16 since the start of our organisation in 1999. We are delighted that the voting age will be lowered to 16 in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections, and we believe this will have a very positive impact on the overall levels of engagement. While fantastic progress has been made, we will continue to campaign for Votes at 16 in all elections.”