Zurich looks set to become the second Swiss canton to allow 16-year-olds to vote on local matters – provided the parliamentary decision is also accepted by a referendum.
The cantonal parliament passed the motion on Monday despite opposition from some political parties.
Glarus is the only other canton to have accepted youth suffrage when it reduced the minimum voting age from 18 to 16 in 2007. Since then, cantons Neuchâtel and Uri have both rejected such a measure.
Zurich’s decision will restrict youth votes to cantonal and communal issues and will still forbid anyone under the age of 18 from being elected to public office.
Because the lowered voting age would result in a change to the canton’s constitution, it must be put to a public referendum before it can be finally approved.
No date has yet been set on when 16 and 17-year-olds would be allowed to vote in canton Zurich.
However, it looks unlikely that the voting age will be reduced to 16 at a national level any time soon. Earlier this month, a committee of the House of Representatives rejected such a proposal.
The current minimum federal voting age of 18 – the age of legal consent in Switzerland – was introduced nationwide following a public vote in 1991.
Supporters of youth suffrage say it would boost the chances of political participation among the younger generation, while opponents argue teenagers aren’t ready to deal with sometimes complex issues.
Source: Swiss Info