Lower voting age to 16, says Council of Europe

The Council of Europe called on member states Friday to investigate lowering the voting age to 16, warning that young people risk being marginalised in national debates.

Ageing populations could see the political process dominated by issues concerning older people, according to a resolution before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace).

Members voted 19-7 in favour of the report during a session in Strasbourg, with one abstention.

“Such a development could endanger the stability of democracy at a time when social cohesion is more important than ever,” said its author, Serbian Milos Aligrudic.

He called on the 47 member states “to investigate the possibility of lowering the voing age to 16 for all kinds of elections.”

The report cited “an increasingly low turnout at elections throughout Europe” among the 18 to 24 age group in particular.

“Research indicates that the longer young people have to wait to participate in political life, the less engaged they are in their adult life,” it said.

The majority of member states currently have 18 as the minimum voting age, though in 2007 Austria became the first to lower the age to 16 for all municipal, state and national elections, the assembly said.

Some German states, one Swiss canton and three British Crown dependencies also permit voting at 16.—AFP

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