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Should we reform the voting age for seniors ?

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In May 2022, the European Parliament passed a law reducing the voting age to 16 for the European elections. As for the presidential elections, many candidates would also like to enlist young people from the age of 16, like Italy, Ireland and France, where this is in the debate. However, maybe the solution is just nearby. What about reforming the age of voting for old people, as the median age is now 43 in this continent?

Young people are often criticized for not taking enough interest in politics, but would they mobilize to change the outcome of the ballot box? Do they really have the power to shift votes in their favour? Then, what about those seniors who over the ages have developed a perception of obsolete societies?

Many of them do not work and live in retirement homes, and are sometimes disconnected from reality.

When we know that the population of the European Union of 27 countries currently has 447 million inhabitants and that Europe is known to be the oldest continent in the world for the share of elderly people living there, it is worth our attention to question the vote.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the elderly is the age group 60 and over. 

Today, there are nearly 70 million people aged 60 or older, which is equivalent to one in five people. The last French presidential elections held in 2022 made it possible to question the legitimacy of the votes of our seniors.

According to the National Institute of statistics and economic studies (INSEE), in this population, we are talking about a participation rate in both steps of presidential elections of 79% for people aged 70 to 74. On the other hand, among voters aged 18 to 24, 52% voted in both rounds of the presidential election. The difference is considerable because there is a difference of 27 points.

This mobilization and involvement of seniors could be explained by demographic ageing, on the one hand, and on the other hand, by the over-participation of seniors in elections. Although young people are increasingly involved in elections, this is still not enough to shift the vote in their favour. During the December 2021 elections in Germany, during which Angela Merkel gave way to Olaf Scholz, this assertion could be observed again.

According to German government statistics, of the 60.4 million people who went to the polls on Sunday 26 September, 57.8% were over the age of 50. In reality, this age group, or generation, isn’t aware of how their behaviour have consequences because more and more are mobilized.

That’s why we have to question their right to vote when their worldview can be obstructive and removed from reality. The retirement age is around 65 in the different countries of the Member States, although several factors may come into play and change this figure. Before that, there are many in retirement, who do not work at all and what matters to them are their purchasing power and security. Consequently, the socio-economic needs and expectations of young people are opposed to those of older people. 

As for them, their centre of interest focuses on global warming, ecology etc.

Then, several studies show that seniors are becoming more conservative and voting more to the right. The over-60s are still more committed to traditional values than the younger generation, according to the French survey of the Research Centre for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions (CREDOC). It is then necessary to question the legitimacy of older people with voting rights, because their decisions weigh on the future of the European population, especially as the rate of seniors increases a little more each year. Indeed, whatever the political opinions of these seniors, the candidates are ready to mobilize shuttles and other means of transport to move them from

residential establishments for dependent elderly people (EHPAD)  to the polling stations. Moreover, the interests of these generations are so opposed to each other that in France, the recent presidential elections have accentuated the gap between young people and others.

Restricting the voting age of seniors could be an effective solution to let young people, concerned about their power as citizens, have their say. It is a right granted to every citizen, but at a certain age it becomes essential to question it for the well-being of all, provided that it is regulated.

Maria

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