Voting at 16 in Austria: a possible model for the EU?

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Series Details No.88, 2018 (12.07.18)
Publication Date 12/07/2018
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For the past decade Austria has been the only country in the EU that allows voting at the age of 16 at all political levels. A year before the next elections to the European Parliament and more than 10 years after lowering the voting age in Austria, it seems useful to take a closer look at the Austrian experience. With an increasingly ageing society, energising youth participation seems an ever more urgent topic. Austria has not yet achieved the goal of a sustainably high and rising youth turnout, but the best way to make a path is to walk it. There is a positive trend becoming apparent as regards both political interest and turnout among Austria’s youth, but translating it into a sustainable higher youth turnout requires providing permanent curricular and extra-curricular support measures. In this context, the long-term commitment of educational centres and of political decision-makers and opinion leaders is important. Embedded in a long-term strategy, voting at 16 could be introduced into other EU-member states as well. According to both EU-wide and Austrian surveys, the younger generation are generally more pro-European than their predecessors. Still, especially young people frequently feel uninformed about the EU and European developments. European political education could close the gap, transforming the pro-European impetus of the next generation into a well-informed debate about the EU and the challenges ahead. Europe’s youth should have a bigger say in determining its own future.

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Related Links
LSE European Institute: EuroppBlog, 10.12.14: Expert voices: Should 16 year olds be allowed to vote?
Wikipedia: Voting age
Nicola Maggini: Young People’s Voting Behaviour in Europe. A Comparative Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
LSE European Institute: EuroppBlog, 27.07.18: Should the rest of the EU follow Austria in reducing the voting age to 16?
Young People’s Voting Behaviour in Europe. A Comparative Perspective

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