European elections 2019: Why adults are giving kids their vote

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Jim and Lilly Platt Handout
Jim Platt, 79, is giving his granddaughter, 11-year-old Lilly, his vote in the European election

Lilly Platt is too young to vote in the upcoming European Parliament election. The 11-year-old won’t be eligible to do so until 2026, when she turns 18.

Yet her grandfather, 79-year-old Jim Platt, has found a way for her voice to be heard.

When he goes to the polls, Mr Platt will vote for the candidates Lilly has chosen.

The pair, who are originally from the UK but live in the Netherlands, are urging voters in all 28 EU states to do the same when they cast their ballots from 23-26 May.

It is Lilly and other young people, Mr Platt told the BBC, who will suffer the worst effects of climate change.

“The campaign against inaction on climate change is almost entirely in the hands of the younger generation,” Mr Platt said.

“If the young can’t have their voices heard by standing on the street and waving placards, there are other ways that it can be done – by this proxy vote process.”

What started off as a symbolic gesture to “make politicians listen” has rapidly transformed into a global movement on social media.

A hashtag that stemmed from their campaign, #givethekidsyourvote, is gaining traction on Twitter, inspiring parents and grandparents across the world to follow their example.

Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old face of the youth climate movement, has backed the idea. When calling for climate action, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Pope Francis have also evoked their responsibility to younger family members.

Mr Platt is hoping EU citizens take heed of their appeals and “look into the future” when choosing their MEPs.

As a retired geologist in the mining sector, he has seen the environmental impacts of the extractive industries first hand.

Because older voters like him do not have “a stake in the future”, he believes they should defer to young people.

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