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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.10 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 7 January 2021

In recent years, debate has opened up on the possibility of lowering the barrier of the legal age to 16 years old, so as to match it with the age of criminal adulthood. However, this is a debate that has not produced any kind of legislative initiative so far and does not appear clearly in the agendas of the main political parties, with the exception of some independent parties that find strong support among the young people of this age group.

The 15-M movement has also had certain effects on the participation of young people in the political sphere. Since its inception, there has been an increase in the participation of young people in political activity, especially on social networks, from where the movement originated in the first place. This activity has been often criticised for not complying with the law, which has opened the debate on the need to enact new laws that prevent the criminal use of social networks. Some online activity by youngsters even resulted in detention and trials under the so-called Araña Operation (Operación Araña), as it was considered acts of exaltation of terrorism.

On 21 October 2020, the Senate rejected a reform of the electoral law proposed by ERC to lower the voting age to 16, which was rejected by 224 votes to 26, with 13 abstentions. The broad majority of the PSOE, PP and Citizens' Party prevented the bill from being considered, and it was only supported by 26 senators from EH Bildu, JxCAT and the Confederal Left group.