Age for Voting and for Standing as a Candidate in National Elections (September 2019)
Young people's right to participating in national elections
Voting and standing as candidate in elections are amongst the most fundamental rights of political participation in democratic societies. Despite the negative trend registered over the past years in the share of young Europeans participating in elections, voting is still considered by young people as one of the most effective ways to influence decision-making.
Generally, citizens acquire the right to vote when reaching the age of 18, which is considered to coincide with the coming to adulthood. This is the case in the vast majority of the countries covered in the map, with the exception of Austria, Greece and Malta, where the minimum age to vote is set earlier: at the age of 16 in Austria and Malta, and at 17 in Greece. In Austria, the decision to lower the minimum voting age was made in 2007, and concomitantly the age at which a person can stand as a candidate for a general election was brought down from 19 to 18. Malta reduced the voting age limit for national elections from 18 to 16 in 2018. In Greece, in addition to elections at the national level, the minimum voting age of 17 also applies to municipal, regional and European elections.
In about two thirds of the countries surveyed, presenting oneself as a candidate in elections is generally possible from the age of 18. In the remaining countries, the minimum age is higher, ranging from 21 to 26 years of age.
The map only shows the minimum age for national elections. Information on local and European elections – and for federal States, on national ones – is available in section 5.2 of Youth Wiki’s national descriptions.