Fri, Mar 29, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Group urges lowering referendum voting age

HAVING A SAY:The youth rights group said that lowering the referendum voting age would enable the youth to participate in deciding on their future

By Hsieh Wen-hua and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Members of the Taiwan Alliance for the Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare hold up placards in Taipei yesterday showing the results of an online survey it conducted, with the question: “Can 18-year-olds vote in a referendum?”

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

The Taiwan Alliance for the Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare yesterday urged the government to amend the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to lower the referendum voting age from 20 to 18.

The youth rights group said a recent online survey it conducted showed that 70 percent of respondents believed that the eligibility for referendum voting should not be 20 years, and 90 percent agreed that 18-year-olds should be allowed to vote.

The survey was carried out between March 18 and Monday, with 600 valid online samples.

Citing Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s (江宜樺) comment that lowering the referendum voting age must be based on public consensus, the group criticized the premier for not mentioning how such consensus should be reached.

According to the group, a number of countries have lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 and that among democratic nations, only Taiwan and Japan have kept the age at 20.

“Nations such as Nicaragua, Austria and Argentina are planning to lower the voting age to 16,” the group said.

“The main reason is that with the rapidly aging societies with fewer children, young people would be allowed to participate in the voting process, enabling them to decide on their future,” it added.

As Taiwan’s population is aging rapidly and could become a “super-aged society” by 2025, it should introduce such measures and lower the referendum voting age, the group said.

Saying that the survey also showed that 99 percent of the respondents agreed that the schools curriculum should include discussion on topics relating to nuclear energy, and that half of respondents supported starting these discussions in elementary school, the group called on the premier to address the issue by tasking the Ministry of Education to map out the necessary plans.

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