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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.2 Youth participation in representative democracy

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Young people as voters
  2. Young people as political representatives

Young people as voters

Any Norwegian national who reaches the age of 18 by the end of the year of election and who is registered at the Population Registry as resident in Norway is qualified to vote at parliamentary elections. The latter qualification does not apply to members of the diplomatic corps or members of the consular service and their households. Qualified to vote at local government elections is any person who is entitled to vote at parliamentary elections. In addition Nordic nationals (Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland) are qualified to vote if they were registered as resident in Norway no later than 30 June in the year of election. Other foreign nationals are qualified to vote if they have been registered at the Population Registry as resident in Norway for a continuous period of three years immediately prior to Election Day.

Norway is not a member of the European Union and does not participate in the European Parliament elections.

National referendums are very seldom utilized in Norway.

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation initiated a pilot project of reduced voting age to 16 during the municipal and county council elections in 2011, and then again in 2015. An evaluation of the trail projects found that:

  • Voter turnout does not change. The trial-voters, aged 16 or 17, have a rate of turnout that is similar to the population as a whole, though quite a bit higher than other young voters. Overall turnout therefore remains stable when the voting age is lowered.

  • There is no evidence to suggest that a lower voting age has an effect  on long-term turnout.­

  • There are large differences in turnout by social background among the youngest voters. It does not appear that a lower voting age, in itself, can bridge social inequalities with respect to voter participation.

  • The political voting preferences of the youngest voters do not deviate substantially from the adult population. A lower voting age will therefore likely not affect the political composition of elected assemblies, such as municipal councils.

  • When the voting age is lowered to 16, young politicians are elected at a higher rate. This is the most concrete effect of the two voting age trials: the political representation of people below the age of 25 went up. In 2011, this happened because young political candidates received more preferential votes; whereas in 2015, parties were ahead of the curve and nominated young candidates at ballot-positions that secured their election.

There are no special provisions for young people in the Norwegian electoral law and rules.

Despite an increase in voter turnout for both first and second-time voters in 2013 and 2017, and also in the local elections in 2019, the participation rate is still much lower than that of older voters. From the age of 26, voter turnout increases with age and then falls dramatically after 80. In the Nordic region Norway has the second largest voter turnout age gap in the Nordic region.

Young people as political representatives

In Norway young people who have reached the age of 18 and are eligible to vote may also run as candidates in elections. There are no quota of seats reserved for young people .

The average age of the members of the Norwegian Parliament [Stortinget] in the current term (2021-2025) is 46. The average age has been steadily declining from 1965 and evened out around 2000.

The proportion of young people in the representative assembly in the present term (2021-2025) is currently 14/169 (8%) under the age of 30.  

The youngest representative was 20 years old at the time of the last parliamentary election (2021).

There are no specific functions within the representative assembly reserved for young people.