New Zealand politicians will take a vote on whether to lower the national voting age from 18 to 16, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.
It follows a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court on Monday that its current voting age of 18 is discriminatory, forcing parliament to discuss whether it should be lowered.
The case, which has been going through the courts since 2020, was bought by lobby group Make It 16.
The group says on its website there is insufficient justification to stop 16-year-olds from voting when they can drive, work full-time and pay tax.
Sanat Singh, its co-director, said he was absolutely thrilled with the court’s decision.
“It’s a huge day,” he said. “This is historic not only for our campaign, but for the country.”
Mr Singh, 18, said existential issues like climate change – as well as issues like pandemic recovery and the state of democracy – will most affect young people.
“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.
Ms Ardern, who leads the liberal Labour Party, said all lawmakers should have a say on the issue.
While she has said she personally favours lowering the age, such a change would require a 75% majority of parliamentarians to agree, and political parties have mixed views on the subject.
The Green Party wants immediate action to lower the voting age to 16, but the largest opposition party, the National Party, does not support the shift.
“It’s not something we support,” its leader Christopher Luxon told reporters.
“Ultimately, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, and we’re comfortable with the line being 18.”
Under the law in New Zealand, the protection against age discrimination begins at 16.
Judges ruled the attorney general had failed to show why 18 had been chosen as the age to vote rather than 16.