“Voting at 16 in Austria: a possible model for the EU?”, Paul Schmidt, Johanna Edthofer (Elcano, Spain)

Austria has been the only country in the EU that allows voting at the age of 16 at all
political levels. Could this be a future model for the EU?

For the past decade Austria has been the only country in the EU that allows voting at the age of 16 at all political levels. A year before the next elections to the European
Parliament and more than 10 years after lowering the voting age in Austria, it seems
useful to take a closer look at the Austrian experience. With an increasingly ageing
society, energising youth participation seems an ever more urgent topic. Austria has not yet achieved the goal of a sustainably high and rising youth turnout, but the best way to make a path is to walk it.

According to both EU-wide and Austrian surveys, the younger generation are generally more pro-European than their predecessors. Still, especially young people frequently feel uninformed about the EU and European developments. European political education could close the gap, transforming the pro-European impetus of the next generation into a well-informed debate about the EU and the challenges ahead. Europe’s youth should have a bigger say in determining its own future.

Read the paper here.