Norway rejects proposal to reduce voting age

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Norway rejects proposal to reduce voting age
Illustration photo of a voting booth. Norway's parliament has rejected lowering the voting age to 16. Photo: Emil Helms / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

A proposal from Norway’s Liberal (Venstre) Party to give 16-year-olds the right to vote has been rejected by the country’s parliament. 


Had it been adopted, the Liberal proposal would have given 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in next year’s local elections.

The proposal had the support of the Red Party, Socialist Left Party, Labour Party and the Green Party.

However, a centre-right majority consisting of the Conservatives, Centre Party, Progress Party and Christian Democratic Party blocked it from moving forward. 


Previously, 16-and-17-year-olds had the right to vote in local elections in a number of municipalities as part of a pilot scheme. That came after an earlier 2013 proposal, also by the Liberals, to reduce the voting age to 16.

“All of these trial projects gave a positive result. We saw a high turnout in this group, they voted ‘normally’ and more young people were elected to local government,” Liberal lawmaker Sveinung Rotevatn, one of the parliamentarians that tabled the proposal, said in parliament according to broadcaster NRK.

A second Liberal representative, Alfred Jens Bjørlo, said it was a “matter of time” before there was majority support for the move.

“I think time is working in favour of this issue,” Bjørlo said.

Arguments put forth by opponents of the proposal include that maturity can vary between different people aged 16 and 17, and that Norway’s voting age and the age of majority (myndigheitsalder  in Norwegian) should be the same.

“We have occasionally had different voting and majority ages. But the voting age has never been lower than the age of majority,” Conservative MP Peter Frølich told NRK.

The leader of the Green Party, Une Bastholm, said that those arguing 16-year-olds were not qualified to vote should prove those claims.

“Democracy is stronger when more people take part in it. In a liberal democracy, those who want to deny others the right to vote bear the burden of proof. We should have a very good reason to deny 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote,” Bastholm said.

Save the Children Norway told NRK that lowering the voting age to 16 was “an important step in supporting the right of children and young people to be heard”.

Everyone who turns 18 by the end of an election year in Norway has the right to vote. Only Norwegian citizens can vote in general elections, while foreigners with permanent residence can head to the ballot box in local ones. 



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