Argentina’s Congress has passed a bill that lowers the voting age to 16, as well as extending voting rights to foreign-born immigrants.
It’s estimated that this has a potential to bring an additional three million voters into the system. The bill was approved with 131 votes to two and one abstention, after the opposition walked out of congress in protest over allegations by a member of the majority on the corruption scandal regarding the police force in the Santa Fe province, governed by the Socialist party, reports MISNA.
While voting is obligatory in Argentina for people aged 18 to 70, under the new measure voting will be optional for those aged 16 and 17.
Critics of the measure claim it is an attempt by President Cristina Kirchner to bolster votes from sectors where her popularity is high. Opposition members claim that the new voting rule is a aimed at paving the way for Kirchner to run for a third term as president – something that would require a Constitutional amendment, with a three-thirds approval by the nation’s Congress.
Kirchner claims the measure “expands the rights of our young people… in a context of democracy and absolute freedom of expression”.
However, opposition member, Elisa Carrió, has defined the reform “a demagogic project,” criticizing the decision to “make the young responsible for the political system,” reports MISNA.
According to a recent survey by the Management & Fit Institute, Kirchner’s popularity has plummeted from 63% last year to 24%.