Monday, December 08, 2003

Bring Them Young

British government is seriously considering lowering voting age to 16. They are justifying that decision with 16-year olds being considered mature enough to drive, have sex or marry (with parents' permission). So, being mature enough to vote is next logical step. They also talk about this being a way to "stimulate young people to care about politics".

Although I don't have anything against the initiative, the reasoning behind it is nothing more than wishful thinking. Lowering the voting age to 16 would have no practical effect whatsoever – the number of people able to vote would slightly increase, while the percentage of people actually participating in elections would decrease.

In simple terms, young people don't vote. Their youth is in reverse proportion to their likelihood to walk to polling stationsHere in Croatia we lately had one of the clearest manifestation of that phenomenon in the form of Pensioners Party entering national parliament.

Due to demographic trends, young people in Europe have their share of general population rapidly shrinking. As a result, politicial establishment is increasingly dependant on older population and tailors itself to their needs and interest – at the expense of the younger population. Cultural and economic trends also point towards youth being disinterested in politics – 16-year old brats who still go to high school are not likely to worry about what would happen to them in even in the very near future; expecting them to have some kind of reasoned and well-thought opinion about tax rates and pension reform is exercise in futility. There might be some 16-year olds who are mature, interested in politics and able to have opinion about difficult issues – but they represent negligible minority.

But this initiative nevertheless makes Britain the "coolest" place of Europe. I think this was its main purpose.

I wonder what this initiative, if it becomes law, would do to German initiative of giving parents proxy votes of their children.


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