the main points
- The Supreme Court found that the current voting age of 18 unfairly discriminated against younger New Zealanders.
- The Cabinet said it would work on drafting a bill to lower the minimum voting age to 16.
- The National Party and the Capital Party ruled out supporting the bill.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will support lowering the voting age to 16 after a court ruled the 18-year-old cap discriminated against younger voters.
Campaign group Make It 16 has followed a court ruling because the Bill of Rights provides legal protection from age discrimination for New Zealanders aged 16 or over unless there is reasonable justification.
“This is history,” co-manager Kayden Tipler told reporters outside the court in Wellington.
“We are very optimistic that once Parliament has reviewed the decision it will see that lowering the voting age is the right thing to do.”
What other countries allow voting at 16?
The government quickly responded to the ruling, announcing hours into Monday afternoon that the Cabinet had looked into the matter and would draft a bill to lower the minimum voting age to 16.
The law should be introduced early next year and, if successful, will go into effect after the 2023 elections.
It will join Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Malta and Scotland in allowing a majority of 16 votes.
Ms Ardern said: “This is an issue that Parliament is better placed to say for everyone to say… I personally support lowering the voting age.”
“For me, it’s consensus about some of the responsibilities and rights that are already apportioned in these different ages, but look, I accept that different politicians are going to have different views.”
We have to draw a line somewhere and we’re comfortable with the line being 18
What is the opinion of the opposition at 16?
Without changing the position of New Zealand’s right-leaning politicians, reform will fail.
Lowering the voting age nationally would require 75 percent support in parliament, and the National and opposition Labor parties – which hold 33 and 10 seats respectively – have ruled out support.
“We’ve got to draw a line somewhere and we’re comfortable with Line 18,” opposition leader Chris Luxon said.