Youth suffrage proposal rejected by voters in Zurich

The climate protests raised political awareness of many young people but voters rejected a proposal to lower the voting age to 16 from 18. Keystone/Ennio Leanza

Proponents of youth suffrage in Switzerland have suffered another setback following a vote in canton Zurich.

This content was published on May 15, 2022 - 17:18

Final resultsExternal link from Sunday show 64.8% of voters rejected a proposal by the Zurich cantonal parliament to introduce the right to vote from the age of 16.

Zurich is the latest canton to throw out youth suffrage. So far, only canton Glarus has introduced the right to vote for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Opponents, notably political parties right of centre, argued that lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 wouldn’t necessarily boost political participation but risked undermining the credibility of democratic decisions.

An alliance of left-wing and centrist supporters said Zurich could set an example for others to promote direct democracy.

Other attempts

At least 13 other cantons – either voters, parliament or the government – have dismissed proposals over the past decade, according to the Federation of Youth ParliamentsExternal link.

Last year, voters in Uri clearly rejected a proposal to introduce youth suffrage.

Moves are still underway in at least eight of the country’s 26 cantons to lower the voting age and a proposal for a constitutional amendment is also being drafted by the Swiss parliament.

The final decision about this reform on a national level will lie with Swiss voters, provided both chambers of parliament approve it in the first place.

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