It is 9 o’clock in the morning when Loïc takes his place, dragging his feet a little, with his comrades facing the Belgian Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden. “I’m here a bit out of obligation but it’s interesting. At our age, we don’t necessarily have all the knowledge that adults have on this subject”he acknowledges.
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The subject is politics. The 300,000 young Belgians aged 16 and 17 will be able to put a ballot in the ballot box in June 2024 to elect their MEPs. Opening the vote to minors is a recommendation of the European Parliament but for the moment, only Malta, Austria, Greece and Germany, where it will also be a first in these European elections, have taken the plunge.
In Belgium, the electoral lists were opened to them on Tuesday 23 May and to promote it, the Belgian Minister of the Interior visited a secondary school in Brussels. “Your voice counts. Get informed and talk about it at school, with your family”, explains Annelies Verlinden. According to her, this is a historic moment: “It’s a first. We do it because we believe in them. We have confidence in the opinions of young people, in their ideas. We are convinced that young people are already aware of the major challenges of tomorrow”.
Salomé, who is 17, is delighted with this change. “On the environment and the climate, I find it interesting for young people to vote because there are not enough decisions taken at this level”. This young Belgian will vote, which will not be the case for Victorine who, for her part, hesitates.
“I’m going to vote when I’m 18 because I’m still a little lost on myself.”Victorine, pupil of a secondary school in Brussels
“I’m still a little lost to know who I’m going to vote for, on what I want the world to be”, she believes. As for Margaux, she wonders why minors cannot also express themselves in national elections. “It would be good if young people could also vote for what affects them the most because the European elections are a bit wide all the same”details this young girl.
For the time being, there has been no political agreement to extend this measure to other elections, but this one will have test value, replies the Belgian Minister of the Interior.