Youth Statute comes into force as youth's participation in politics increases

Law 12,852/2013 entered into force on February 1st, establishing the Youth Statute, which provides for the rights of young people, the principles and guidelines of public youth policies and the National Youth System (Sinajuve).

Law 12,852/2013 entered into force on February 1st, establishing the Youth Statute, which provides for the rights of young people, the principles and guidelines of public youth policies and the National Youth System (Sinajuve). Governed by the principle of valuation and promotion of social and political participation (among others), the Law was enacted in August 2013, amid massive demonstrations that led millions of people to the streets of the country. Now, the Statute takes effect in a general election year, when about 23 million young people between 16 and 24 (as per data from December 2013) will get to elect their next representatives.  
Data from the study "Youth Agenda Brazil: National Survey on Profile and Opinion of Brazilian Youth 2013" (in Portuguese), published by the National Youth Secretariat (SNJ) of the Presidency, shows that 83% of the young people surveyed consider politics "very or somewhat important." The survey was conducted with 3,300 young citizens, aged 15 to 29, in 187 municipalities of the 27 states of the country.
According to the SNJ survey, "emphasis on politics is made clear by the exercise of the basic mechanism of participation in the democratic system, i.e. the vote, which is strongly supported by young people. A high percentage of youth obtain their voter ID, even in the age groups for which voting is optional [16 and 17]. It demonstrates a high degree of recognition of this rite for the exercise of democracy, since two thirds of young people have obtained (55%) or intend to obtain (10%) their Voter ID before the age 18."
The National Youth Secretary, Severine Macedo, analyzed the participation of youth in the political process. “The youth has always been part of these democratic transformation processes in Brazil. This is an extremely important factor, especially at a time when the political system is strongly questioned. Obtaining their Voter ID and voting for the first time before being required to is the clearest sign that young people have not given up on politics as an important step. But political system needs to be updated so that the weight of the vote of the young is not only felt in election times, but also on daily life, on actual incidence of that importance for the transformation of the country," says the Secretary.
Over the years, the country has seen many examples of engagement of the youth to defend the interests of the entire population, one of such being the "Direct Elections Now" movement in 1983 and 1984. Specifically with regard to the right of the youth to vote, the Federal Constitution of 1988, in its Article 14, established that young citizens between 16 and 17 had the option to exercise that right.
Six years later, a student aged 15 at the time got the TSE to allow teenagers her age to exercise their first vote, provided that the request for the Voter ID was made in an election year and that the requestor had already completed 16 years of age by the day of the election. Since she wished to vote in the second presidential election after the military dictatorship, in 1994, Renata Cristina Gomes Rabelo requested her Voter ID to be issued in an electoral office in Vitória (ES), which denied the request since the girl had not yet completed the minimum age to exercise her voting rights. After receiving a letter from Ms. Rabelo requesting her right to vote, the Plenary of the TSE unanimously decided to adopt the interpretation that the age limit of 16 is to be required at the time of the vote, not at the time of 'electoral enrollment' (the request of the Voter ID).
Another survey, conducted by the TSE News Office in October 2013, shows that the social participation and political engagement of Brazil's youth goes beyond the ability to exercise their citizenship through voting: in addition to the more than 24.8 million voters between 16 and 24 who were able to vote for Mayor and Councilor in the 2012 elections, 18,399 young people in that age group ran as candidates for those positions. Of these, 1,356 were elected. According to Electoral Law, in order to hold public office the elected candidate must be at least 18 at the date of inauguration.
In an attempt to foster further interest by young people in political issues, the Electoral Justice launched the Young Voter Campaign in October last year. The initiative sought to encourage young people aged 16 to 17, for whom vote is optional, to register as voters and exercise the right to vote in the general elections of 5 October 2014. The initiative developed by the TSE had the motto "I represent myself: I vote" and the slogan "Come to the ballot”. Besides advertisement on radio and TV, seminars, lectures in schools, itinerant visits and distribution of printed informative material were all used to encourage young people to obtain their Voter ID.
Youth Statute
According to the Youth Statute, 'young', for lawful purposes, is a person between 15 and 29 years old. The principles that govern the law include (but not limited to) promoting autonomy and emancipation of young people; valuing and promoting social and political participation, both directly and through representation; promoting creativity and participation in the development of the country; and ensuring the recognition of youth as individuals endowed with universal, generational and individual rights.
Article 4 of the Law that created the Statute states that "young citizens have the right to social and political participation and to the formulation, implementation and evaluation of public policies for the youth." Youth participation was defined (among other aspects) as the active involvement of young people in public policy actions that aim to benefit themselves, their communities, cities, regions and the country, as well as the effective inclusion of young people in public decision spaces with voice and vote. Also according to the Statute, dialogue between youth and the government may be effected by associations, networks, movements and youth organizations.