A coalition of civic groups on Wednesday rallied outside the legislature in Taipei to drum up support for a referendum alongside the local elections on Saturday next week to lower the legal voting age and the age of eligibility for candidacy to 18.
The groups are the Environmental Juries Association, the Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy, the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan, and the Environmental Rights Foundation.
As lowering the legal voting age and the age to run for public office requires a constitutional amendment, the referendum needs at least 9.65 million people to vote in its favor to pass, or 50 percent of eligible voters nationwide, the groups said.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
The current voting age is 20, while eligibility to run for public office starts at age 23.
Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy president Chang Yu-meng (張育萌) said that Taiwan’s political system significantly limits youth participation, making it difficult for the voices of young people to be heard.
This issue can be resolved by lowering the voting age and the age of candidacy, Chang said.
Tsai Ya-ying (蔡雅瀅), an attorney for the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, said that lowering the voting age would encourage participation among young people in public issues, which would drive policymakers to better reflect the needs of younger generations.
Lu Kuan-hui (呂冠輝), an attorney for the Environmental Rights Foundation, said that several climate lawsuits in other nations were initiated by minors, but Taiwanese seems indifferent regarding climate and carbon reduction issues.
At this critical juncture for mitigating the negative effects of climate change, political participation by young Taiwanese is more important than ever, Lu said.
Environmental Juries Association researcher Guo Meng-fei (郭孟斐) said that young people have played a crucial role in social movements and reforms, but about 500,000 Taiwanese aged 18 to 20 have been denied the right to vote in the elections next week.
Taiwanese must take that “crucial first step” to give younger generations the right to vote and participate in politics, Guo said.
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