New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that lawmakers will decide if the voting age should be lowered from 18 to 16 after the country’s Supreme Court deemed the current voting age is “discriminatory.”
In her remarks, Ardern reportedly said she supports lowering the voting age to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote. However, according to the Associated Press, the country currently does not have enough lawmakers to agree to this kind of change.
“I personally support a decrease in the voting age, but it is not a matter simply for me or even the government,” Ardern said. “Any change in electoral law of this nature requires 75% of parliamentarians’ support.”
Ardern added that a vote on the issue would likely take place in “coming months” but would not take effect until after its next general election.
Sanat Singh, one of the directors of the “Make It 16” campaign, told AP that “existential issues” like climate change and COVID-19 impact young people more than other age groups. Because of this, he claims that young people should have the right to vote.
“That’s why I think it’s really important to get all hands on deck to make sure we can have a stronger future,” he said.
Golriz Chahraman, a spokesperson for the Green Party, told the AP that “young people deserve to have a say in the decisions that affect them, both now and in the future.”
The leaders of New Zealand’s two right-leaning parties reportedly said they would not support such a change. In the 1960s, New Zealand’s voting age was lowered from age 21 to age 20. In the 1970s, it was lowered to 18.
Reuters reported Monday that the Supreme Court’s decision would force Parliament to discuss if the voting age should be lowered. The ruling does not mean that the voting age will be lowered.