Vote 16: Why did Adrian Delia's youngest son 'threaten' to tell older sisters not to vote for their father?

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition leader Adrian Delia address parliamentary sitting with young people as they highlight the unanimous agreement between the political parties to grant voting rights to 16-year-olds

Vote 16 means politicians will have to cater for a new demographic
Vote 16 means politicians will have to cater for a new demographic

Parliament's unanimous decision in favour of granting voting rights to 16-year-olds marked an “important day” for Malta, but the next step was to ensure young people engaged in political discussion, the Prime Minister has said

Joseph Muscat was addressing a special session of Parliament where young people participated in the youth parliament. He said that having 16-year-olds vote in the next election would positively affect the way electoral campaigns are conducted, since it would lead to less self-centered politics.

Referring to past criticism of Vote16 as having been “myopic”, Muscat, in jest, said it was not even possible to buy his 10-year-old children through offering them a vote, let alone how it would be possible to buy 16-year-olds in such a way.

This comment was taken up by Opposition leader Adrian Delia, who also addressed the youth parliament. Delia said that when he switched off the television at home, his youngest son had 'threatened' to tell his older sisters not to vote for him. "The power of Vote 16 is already being felt," Delia joked .

Both leaders hailed the unanimous agreement in Parliament to change the Constitution and allow 16-year-olds to vote in national elections. The first such electoral appointment comes next year when the European Parliament election will take place.

Muscat said the next election campaign will be more idealistic in terms of the country's future. "Young people have different priorities, and this will cause political parties to tackle subjects which might not have been considered so important in previous years,” he said, emphasising that parties will have to go beyond conventional policies.

Muscat said politicians now had to be consistent with the decision to lower the voting age and one such aspect is the age for sexual consent. Two years ago the parliamentary committee for family and social affairs had proposed lowering the age for sexual consent to 16 from 18, with the Prime Minister saying it was high time to legislate on the matter.

Touching on social media, Muscat said that while the EU would be leaving it up to the member states to choose at what age young people could open social media accounts within the 13-16 age bracket, he was of the opinion that Malta should set the minimum age at 13.

“We believe we should educate our young, rather than prohibit them from opening an account,” he said.

Muscat said the country will soon embark on a discussion on the constitutional convention and on women’s participation in politics. He noted that the government had a mandate to take “corrective measures” to see that the next legislature will not have the same gender imbalance of previous ones. “This is one of the biggest reforms we have to carry out,” he maintained.

Adrian Delia: young people are Malta’s resource

Opposition leader Adrian Delia said Malta had no natural resources to boast about apart from the wealth of its young people.

“This vote means that children who are now aged 12, and will be 16 at the next general election, can now choose not only who they want to represent them, but they can also set the agenda for their representatives," Delia said.

The Opposition leader spoke of being happy that Parliament had “for once” agreed and acted together on something, remarking that “as young people, you’ve already brought politicians together.”

“If you young people manage to do just one thing - to bring the country together - you would have given the biggest gift to the country,” he said.

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