Doubts About Lowering Municipal Voting Age

iceland parliament

A bill proposing that voting age for municipal elections should be lowered to 16 years is being prepared by parliament, RÚV reports. The bill suggests that every Icelandic citizen that is 16 years old on election day should be allowed to vote in municipal elections. The bill also suggests that citizens of other Nordic countries having had regal residence in Iceland for 3 years or longer should be able to vote at 16 years of age, as well as other foreign citizens that have had legal residence for 5 years or longer.

Parliament has reached out to different municipality councils across the country asking for feedback on the bill, with many of them, including the municipality of Hvalfjarðarsveit and Árborg, saying that they’d prefer the voting age remain at 18 years old. Hvergerðisbær’s town council also chimed in, saying that it would not feel right about separating voting age and the age of eligibility for candidacy.

Hvalfjarðarsveit does state, however, that there is cause to support democratic involvement of young people and increase their ability to influence society. The municipality suggests that this be achieved by strengthening youth councils within municipalities.

Many others request that they be given more time to discuss the proposed bill before handing in their assessment.

The Ombudsman for Children in Iceland has pointed out that in the 3 years that remain until the next elections, there is opportunity to increase social awareness of young people and fully prepare them to partake in the democratic process. “In our discussions with young people it has been made clear that they call for increased education on democracy, systems of government and politics in the older classes of elementary school and in high schools,” the ombudsman says.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many youth organisations support the bill, both within and outside political parties.

The lowering of the voting age in municipal elections would be possible with a simple amendment to existing voting laws, whereas the lowering of voting age for parliament elections would require a change in Iceland’s constitution.