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Strengthening Democracy by Embracing a Multi-Party System

Critics of giving citizens under 18 the right to vote argue that such teenagers lack the ability and motivation to participate effectively in elections.

If this argument is true, lowering the voting age would have negative consequences for the quality of democracy. We test the argument using survey data from Austria, the only European country with a voting age of 16 in nation-wide elections. While the turnout levels of young people under 18 are relatively low, their failure to vote cannot be explained by a lower ability or motivation to participate.

In addition, the quality of these citizens' choices is similar to that of older voters, so they do cast votes in ways that enable their interests to be represented equally well. These results are encouraging for supporters of a lower voting age. In light of these developments, it has been suggested that the minimum voting age should be lowered to 16 e. Power Commission, ; Votes at 16, ; Hart and Artkins, Supporters of such a reform argue that lowering the voting age would have a positive impact on electoral participation.

This is because young people under 18 are likely to still be in school and live with their families, two factors that have been shown to encourage turnout through a variety of socialisation mechanisms Franklin, ; Highton and Wolfinger, ; Bhatti and Hansen, In the long term, this higher level of participation at a young age may then facilitate the early development of a habit of voting e. Plutzer, ; Franklin, Of course, lowering the voting age is not only justified as a way to stop the decline in turnout.

For example, it is also seen as a way to ensure that the interests of young citizens are represented in the political system Votes at 16, However, the proposed reform is not without its critics. The main argument made against lowering the voting age is that young people under 18 lack the ability and motivation to participate effectively in the electoral process Chan and Clayton, It is suggested that this will lead to low turnout rates, comparable to — if not even lower than — those observed among citizens aged 18—25 Electoral Commission, A further consequence would be that citizens under 18 might not make use of their vote as effectively as older voters.

While they might vote for the sake of voting, they would not challenge the government to respond to their interests. In this paper, we test whether these critics are right. Are young people under 18 less able and motivated to participate effectively in politics? And do these factors influence whether and how they use their right to vote?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then lowering the voting age could indeed have negative consequences for the health of democracy.

If the answer is no, then critics are arguably left with fewer arguments why we should oppose lowering the voting age. Instead, we might consider potential positive consequences of the reform, such as tying young people to the democratic process, encouraging the development of a habit of voting and ensuring the representation of their interests. We examine the choices made by young people under 18 using data from Austria, where in the voting age at national elections was lowered to Specifically, we use a survey carried out in the run-up to the European Parliament EP elections which over-sampled young people under Austria's reform allows us to examine for the first time whether the critics of lowering the minimum voting age are right.

Before, the only possible empirical strategies were either to extrapolate about the behaviour of citizens under 18 from that of voters just over 18 or to study the potential electoral behaviour of young people under 18 in a context where they did not have the vote. Our survey indicates that the intention to turn out was indeed relatively low among citizens under 18 in the EP election. Using the self-assessed likelihood of voting on a scale of 0—10, unders have a low average intention of turning out, with a mean score of 5.

This is lower than among respondents aged between 18 and 21 6. Is this pattern due to the fact that Austrians under 18 are particularly unable or unwilling to participate in politics? Our findings show that this is not the case. First, measures of political interest, knowledge and non-electoral participation indicate that young people under 18 are not particularly unable or unwilling to participate in political life.

Second, these factors do not help to explain their lower turnout rates, so we cannot say that young citizens fail to vote for reasons that are particularly troubling for democratic legitimacy.

Finally, there is no evidence that the quality of vote choices among citizens under 18 is any worse than that of older voters. We begin this paper by discussing in greater depth existing arguments regarding the political behaviour of citizens under 18 and the potential effects of lowering the voting age in terms of democratic legitimacy, focussing on turnout and the quality of vote choice. After describing the survey, we provide a brief descriptive account of young people's motivation and ability to engage in politics.

We then turn to a multivariate analysis that explores the reasons behind turnout decisions of citizens under Finally, we examine the quality of vote choice among these voters. In the scholarly debate democratic legitimacy includes two dimensions: input and output legitimacy Scharpf, This paper focuses on the input dimension of democratic legitimacy.

Input legitimacy requires citizens who are motivated and competent and who engage in reasoned arguments in collective decision-making processes.

As a result, input legitimacy may be negatively affected by lowering the voting age if this only serves to extend suffrage to citizens who are not motivated or able to participate in decision-making in this way.

Simply put, the central question is whether citizens under 18 have the ability and motivation to participate effectively in elections. Why might we expect this not to be the case? According to Chan and Clayton , those under 18 fail to score high enough on any of these indicators. They suggest that these differences cannot be explained by the fact that in the UK those under 18 do not yet have the vote and therefore have no incentive to become involved in politics. Instead, citing Dawkins and Cornwell , they argue that the teenage brain may simply not be ready to vote at It is perhaps more likely that these age differences may exist due to a universal life-cycle effect, with younger voters simply not yet having developed the political interest, knowledge and sense of duty that comes with age Aarts and Wessels, Thus, from this critical perspective young citizens under 18 lack the ability and motivation to engage effectively in politics.

Since our aim is to test the arguments made by critics of lowering the voting age, our hypotheses are as follows:. Young citizens under 18 are less able to participate in politics effectively than older voters. Young citizens under 18 are less motivated to participate in politics effectively than older voters. Enlarging suffrage to include young people under 18 may have consequences for the level of turnout. On the one hand, some scholars argue that turnout numbers may improve, especially in the longer term, as young people under 18 are more easily and more lastingly mobilised to vote due to socialisation effects e.

Franklin, On the other hand, critics put forward the argument that it could also be that young people under 18 simply mirror the low levels of turnout found among those aged between 18 and 21 e. Electoral Commission, However in this paper, we are not concerned with the levels of turnout themselves. For one, to examine the development of a habit of voting requires a longer-term perspective than cannot be achieved just two years after the voting age was lowered.

Moreover, looking exclusively at the level of turnout should not be the only way to address whether declining electoral participation is worrying.

As pointed out, it is particularly concerning when decisions not to vote are a reflection of disenchantment, indifference or a lack of capabilities Chan and Clayton, Lower levels of turnout among citizens under 18 do not automatically indicate that this pattern is due to a lower ability and motivation to participate.

Other reasons may underlie this decision. Electoral participation is not the only way that a democratic bond between citizens and the political system can be created e. Topf, b ; Franklin, ; Fuchs and Klingemann, ; Dalton, Young voters may be particularly likely to choose other forms of participation due to longer schooling years, exposure to other forms of informal civic education, higher information levels, new information channels and a decrease in party affiliation e.

Thomassen, Second, young voters may simply see voting itself as less of a civic duty e. Blais, ; Dalton, ; Wattenberg, They may have a more individual calculus of the utility of voting and rely more heavily on the assessment of the importance of election outcomes Thomassen, In other words, we need to know whether citizens under 18 fail to vote because of a lower ability and motivation to participate effectively.

If this is the case, then this undermines input legitimacy; if not, then lower turnout is perhaps less worrying. In sum, we argue that the quality of the electoral participation of citizens under 18 is particularly unsatisfactory if low turnout can be explained by a low willingness and motivation to engage in politics.

We will therefore test the following two hypotheses:. The lower turnout of young people under 18 can be explained by their lower ability to participate in politics. The lower turnout of young people under 18 can be explained by their lower motivation to participate in politics. Just because citizens go to the polls does not mean that they will be well-represented by those they elect.

Citizens should be able to select accurately between political actors and make a choice that is consistent with their own views, attitudes and preferences e. Lau and Redlawsk, If voters under 18 take choices that do not reflect their interests and attitudes, then this will limit their substantial representation Pitkin, The arguments presented earlier that citizens under 18 may lack the requisite ability and motivation to participate Chan and Clayton, would also lead them to be less inclined to think carefully about their decision and therefore choose parties that do not reflect their preferences.

They may fail to take choices that represent their interests well. Thus, there would also be negative consequences for democracy if the choices made by voters under 18 are less well-linked to their actual preferences than those of older voters. On the other hand, if the decisions of voters under 18 reflect their preferences as well as they do in older age groups, then the critics' arguments have no empirical basis. We would have no reason to believe that the interests and preferences of voters under 18 would be less well-represented.

Our final hypothesis therefore tests this last argument by critics of lowering the voting age and reads as follows:. The quality of vote choice among voters under 18 is lower than among older voters. Until now, empirical research on the effects of lowering the voting age has had to take one of two unsatisfactory approaches. The first method has been to assume that unders are little different from those just over 18, justifying the use of evidence from the voting behaviour of young citizens aged 18 and older e.

Chan and Clayton, Studying electoral participation for those who do not have the right to vote has a considerable flaw: without the right to cast a ballot, there is no rational incentive for citizens to increase their interest and knowledge in politics.

To test correctly whether the electoral participation of unders matches the quality of that of their older peers, we therefore need a case where such young citizens have the right to vote. Austria is the only country in Europe that has a voting age of 16 for national elections.

Austria thus provides the first opportunity to examine the political participation of unders in a nation-wide election, at least in a stable advanced industrial democracy.

We take advantage of the over-sampled segment of Austrian voters to compare and year olds to voters between 18 and 21, 22 and 25, 26 and 30 and to voters over We assess the ability and motivation to participate effectively in politics using three measures.

The Government and Politics of India

Liberal democracy is in crisis where it was long thought most securely established. In both Western Europe and the United States, polls suggest voters are losing faith in democratic institutions; polarization and illiberalism appear to be on the rise. A striking feature of this crisis moment is the perception that many of the most pressing political issues are shared conditions of the United States and Europe—a significant change from earlier decades. This perceived convergence raises critical questions: To what extent are current democratic weaknesses in Europe in fact similar to or different from those facing the United States? And what are the most fertile areas for mutual learning and cooperation? Liberal democracy is in crisis in places where it was long thought most securely established.

Pro-democracy reformers, activists, and funders in the United States tend to focus on increasing voter turnout by decreasing the barriers to voter registration and casting a ballot. In the market economy consumers have a plethora of choices for virtually every good and service. As a generation, Millennials are more ethnically diverse, hold more progressive views on social issues, and are more likely to favor a strong role for government than previous cohorts. How does this translate into affiliating with political parties? A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in early , found that about half of Millennials did not identify with either the Democratic or Republican political party, an increase from 38 percent in Further, only 31 percent of Millennials saw big differences between the two parties, compared to 43 percent of all respondents in the same survey.


The size of a party system (how many parties regularly compete in elections) and its Moving to the northeast cell, a later set of writers, still influenced by spatial.


Voting at 16: Turnout and the quality of vote choice

This page contains information relevant to elections and electoral systems. It is linked to the book The Politics of Electoral Systems now available in paperback , edited by Michael Gallagher and Paul Mitchell see or download the index of this book. Further information about all the seat allocation methods and indices can be found in this book, which also contains a comprehensive list of other web sites containing information about election results and electoral systems. West European Politics : 'This is not just any book on the politics of electoral systems; it is probably the book on the politics of electoral systems

Critics of giving citizens under 18 the right to vote argue that such teenagers lack the ability and motivation to participate effectively in elections. If this argument is true, lowering the voting age would have negative consequences for the quality of democracy. We test the argument using survey data from Austria, the only European country with a voting age of 16 in nation-wide elections.

This section includes comments about problems that were made by all respondents regardless of their answer to the main question about the impact of technology on democracy by These worries are organized under seven themes.

Party-list proportional representation systems are a family of voting systems emphasizing proportional representation in elections in which multiple candidates are elected e. They can also be used as part of mixed additional member systems. In these systems, parties make lists of candidates to be elected, and seats are distributed to each party in proportion to the number of votes the party receives. The order in which a party's list candidates get elected may be pre-determined by some method internal to the party or the candidates a closed list system or it may be determined by the voters at large an open list system or by districts a local list system.

Коммандер, пытаясь приоткрыть дверь, прижал лицо вплотную к узенькой щелке. - Господи Боже мой, Сьюзан, с тобой все в порядке. Она встала на ноги и расправила платье. - Все обошлось.

Стратмор прав. Это просто как день. Как они этого сразу не заметили.

 Может быть, для того, чтобы вы не заподозрили, что это приманка. Может быть, Танкадо защитил его ровно настолько, чтобы вы на него наткнулись и сочли, что вам очень повезло. Это придает правдоподобность его электронной переписке.

 - Человек умирал, и у него было одно желание. Мы просто исполнили его последнюю волю. Беккер смягчился. В конце концов, Росио права, он сам, наверное, поступил бы точно так .

Трудно поверить, что такие ножки носят 170 баллов IQ. Охранник покачал головой. Он долго смотрел ей вслед.

Беккер поспешил переменить тему: - У вас на голове огромная шишка. Больно. - Да нет вообще-то. Я грохнулся на землю - такова цена, которую приходится платить добрым самаритянам. Вот запястье в самом деле болит.

 Кармен. Ту, что работает в столовой. Бринкерхофф почувствовал, как его лицо заливается краской.

 Нет. Они сказали - агентство. АНБ.

 - Стратмор сказал, что у них все в порядке. - Он солгал. Бринкерхофф не знал, что на это ответить.

Стратмор мгновенно взвесил все варианты. Если он позволит Хейлу вывести Сьюзан из шифровалки и уехать, у него не будет никаких гарантий. Они уедут, потом остановятся где-нибудь в лесу. У него будет пистолет… От этой мысли у Стратмора свело желудок.

Загорелое лицо консьержа расплылось еще шире.

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