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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.10 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 31 December 2023

Voting age

The lowering of the voting age remains a hot issue in Flanders (See 5.10). In May 2016 the Flemish Youth Council voted an opinion pro-voting 16. On 21 October 2021 the Council of Ministers of the federal government decided that young people from the age of 16 will be allowed to vote at the next European elections in 2024. For the age groups 16-17 voting will be a right, whereas for people from 18 onwards voting is compulsory in Belgium. At this moment, there is some uncertainty regarding the practical organization. In the first plan, young people (16-17) had to register themselves if they wanted to vote. In July 2023 the Constitutional Court rejected this regulation (but confirmed the possibility to lower the voting age). At the moment, a new procedure is being developed. An estimated 270,000 Belgian young people between the ages of 16 and 18 will be able to vote in the European elections. Belgium is the fourth country, after Austria, Greece and Malta, to meet the European Union's request to give young people aged 16 and over the chance to vote. Now, the right to vote starts at the age of 18. The Flemish Youth Council sees the lowering of the voting age for European elections as only a first step towards an expansion that should also take place at the federal, regional and local level.