Debate workshops at the European Youth Event
A debate workshop on youth voting age was held during EYE Varaždin, where over 600 young people from Europe and Asia met to discuss key youth issues.
The Croatian city of Varaždin was the host European Youth Event (EYE) from 25 to 26 November this year. Young people from Europe and Asia arrived at EYE to learn from each other, sharing their stories and networking with decision-makers, activists, and experts across Europe. The event welcomed over 600 participants and featured 40 activities, panels, workshops, performances, concerts, and exhibitions in three main theme groups covering politics, culture, and free time. The participants had a busy and very productive weekend, from self-defence class, vogueing workshops and recycling workshops to social gatherings and cultural events. Some of the most exciting activities were the panels, with topics ranging from effective housing policies for young people to the challenges of ensuring an European future for the youth.
European parliamentary elections coming up in 2024 and the European Year of Youth were centre stage at a panel consisting of young activists and European parliament members. Trainers from Croatian Debate Society, one of IDEA's member organisations, took centre stage while leading a youth vote and participation workshop. Held under the banner of "Ta Politika! Vote at 16 - Debate it now!", they used debate methodology and experience as youth trainers to discuss whether we should lower the voting age to 16. The attendees explored various arguments, including that younger people being more informed and open to change will help with the voting turnout, increasing the motivation of young people and developing their democratic culture. As challenges to the proposition, participants noted how young people sometimes don't have sufficient knowledge of politics and political history (especially first-hand), and their immaturity can make them easy targets for political manipulation.
It was inspiring to see many former volunteers in debate organisations and debate alums take centre stage as panellists, facilitators and activists. A Member of the European Parliament Karlo Ressler (EPP), a Croatian Debate Society alumnus, used the opportunity to talk about his experience in the organisation's secondary-level debate programme and the effect debate had on his knowledge and interest in politics, as well as how important and productive it is for young people to participate in debate activities in general.
This event served as a motivating conclusion to the European Year of Youth, during which IDEA and our partners continued our youth engagement and empowerment efforts.
If you are interested in learning more about the arguments most commonly used to propose or oppose lowering the voting age, chrack out our Debatabase article "This House would lower the voting age to 16".
Finally, we would like to thank Marta Keča and Branimira Penić from Croatian Debate Society for delivering the training and reporting on the event.
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