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Debate: Should the minimum age of candidacy for political office be 18?

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Should the minimum age of candidacy be 18?

Background and context

No one can deny that the election is a very important method of democratic practices and inclusion of citizens in decision making and policy making. But, restrictions on voting age and candidacy age are popping up as a major discussion these days. Should we foster opportunities for younger citizens to engage as candidates or is there a certain age, before which, we can't trust a candidate to do a good job? The United Kingdom parliament decided in 2006 to lower their age of candidacy from 21 to 18, which had existed since the Parliamentary Elections Act 1695. In some countries with newer democratic institutions, such as Nepal, these issues are also highly significant. In approaching the 2008 Elections for Constituent Assembly in Nepal, some argued for allowing 16 year-olds to vote and 18 year-olds to run for office. Opponent say that this would be against the international trend and that it would be a more prudent and conservative to stick with the 25 age limit that already exists. Internationally, this issue remains very heated, and transcends boundaries between the oldest and newest democracies.


Contents

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Rights: Do 18 year-old citizens have a right to run for office?

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Yes

  • Running for office is a fundamental right: Who can say being elected is not a fundamental right as a citizen of a country. Then why should we have to waste time on unnecessary rules and policy. The idea of only permitting 25 year-olds to be a candidate is in direct violation of fundamental rights conferred by the state.
  • The right to hold office is given by voters not mandate. In a democracy, the right to hold office is given by voters. If voters decide to elect an 18 year old, their vote of confidence is a sufficient demonstration of his or her qualifications and right to govern. And, even if an 18 year old elected official makes mistakes due to his or her inexperience, complaints are not appropriate, given the fact that a democratic vote was cast in favor of the candidate. Furthermore, we should trust the electorate to be capable of making judgments about candidates. If there is reason to believe that an 18 year old candidate is too young and inexperienced, then we should trust that the electorate will recognize this fact and vote for another candidate.



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No

  • Elected officials have the highest responsibilities and so must be of an age of responsibility. Rights are a major and serious matter for a country and its people. Each and every thing of a country depends on them. They offer freedoms and responsibilities to citizens, but with the assumption that citizens can handle them. Driver's licenses are a good example. The right to drive is only offered to citizens when it seems that they are capable of handling the responsibility. If this right was offered too soon, it could jeopardize other citizens on the road and their rights and liberties. Similarly, an elected official that is too young could jeopardize the rights of the citizens being governed. In fact, a elected official is in a position of power that has the risk of jeopardizing more citizens' rights than any other position of responsibility. This is why it is important that the age of candidacy is higher than almost all other age limits; the responsibility is very high.
  • 18 year olds are too inexperienced too hold office. 18 is a young age that lacks many of the responsibilities required from public office. 18 year olds are typically in their first year of college, are still dependent on their parents, have not participated significantly in democratic processes, have never managed people, and in some countries are not even yet conferred the right to drink. In short, they lack a major chunk of the life experience that would empower them to effectively lead other people. Of greater concern, this inexperience has the potential to jeopardize the rights of those that they may govern.
  • 18 year olds are new to democratic processes and so should not be eligible for office. If voting begins at 18 or 16, then an 18 year-old has little-to-no experience participating in democracy. These experiences are relevant to holding office. In general, it seems that voting rights should always be a precursor to the right to run for office, given how important one is to the other.


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Youth participation: Would an age of candidacy of 18 encourage youth participation?

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Yes

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No

  • Youth participation should by encourage by a lower voting age, not an age of candidacy of 18


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Public opinion: Do publics internationally support decreasing the age of candidacy?

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Yes

  • A global trend exists in the reduction of voting ages: During this century, many countries have reduced their legal voting age from varying ages to 18 years. Austria reduced it from 19 to 18 years, United Kingdom from 21 to 18 years, and the call for reductions is growing in many other countries. This demonstrates a growing international desire and demand among youth to participate in the democratic process as candidates. This desire itself could be viewed as a sufficient warrant for young people to participate; it demonstrates a willingness to engage and fulfill the burdens of office.


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No

  • Trends are insignificant to a country's specific circumstances on age of candidacy laws.


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Crime rate Increases...

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Yes

  • Unfair Blame: It is very unfair to blame young population as criminal. Yes, there may be some criminal youth. But have you ever search data of criminal used in election who are more than 20 years.


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No

  • Youth Reflect more crime: As number of young population increases there may be increase in crime rate. As they are not matured socially and politically other groups may use them as their interest. So, allowing voting at age 16 and candidacy at 18 may invite serious crime increase. For example in Nepal, during election more and more crime are occurred and in majority of case youth between 16 to 20 are used . If we project youth candidacy then obviously the crime rate uplift to sky.


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Pro/con resources

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Yes



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No

See also:

External links and resources


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