Iceland Gets Closer To Lowering Voting Age From 18 To 16 - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland Gets Closer To Lowering Voting Age From 18 To 16

Published January 24, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Adobe Stock

A bill which would lower the voting age has considerable multipartisan support, including MPs from the ruling coalition, and the majority of those on the committee pertaining to the bill also support it.

The bill has been co-signed by 21 MPs from six parties, including ruling coalition partners the Left-Greens, the Independence Party and the Progressive Party. Bearing in mind that Iceland’s Parliament is only 63 seats, this makes the groundwork for the measure considerably solid.

Furthermore, RÚV reports that the majority of those on the Constitutional and Supervisory Committee also support the bill. This support is crucial—bills are fine-tuned in committee, and majority support all but ensures passage to a final vote.

That said, there is some opposition to the bill. MPs for the Centre Party and the People’s Party are conspicuously absent from the bill, and at least two Independence Party MPs do not support lowering the voting age. Further, municipal authorities have questioned or opposed the measure as well.

The bill has been submitted three times before; on the third attempt, held last year, it managed to make it to the third round of discussions but a final vote was never taken.

As the language of the bill points out, Iceland’s young people are already quite politically aware and active. Almost every political party has a youth wing, for example, and numerous young people have taken part in or even initiated such movements as Free The Nipple.

Moreover, 16 as a proper age to vote in municipal elections is a common fact across Europe. Iceland, by contrast, last lowered its voting age in 1984, from 20 to 18.

If passed, about 9,000 more people would be able to vote. Municipal elections are not constrained solely to citizens, either; immigrants who have been living in Iceland for at least five years also have the right to vote in municipal elections.

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