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1 February, 2005

Age of candidacy to be reduced to 18

The age at which people can stand for election will be reduced from 21 to 18 under plans unveiled last week by Elections Minister Christopher Leslie.

In its report 'Age of Electoral Majority', published in April 2004, the independent Electoral Commission recommended keeping the minimum voting age at 18 but reducing the age of candidacy from 21 to 18 (as is already the case in Scotland).

Speaking at a school in Bradford, Mr Leslie said that the government would seek to legislate to reduce the age of candidacy when parliamentary time allows.

"At 18, if you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to be voted for", he said.

"Giving younger people the right to participate fully in elections from the age of eighteen can only encourage them to learn more about the democratic process and use their right to vote."

In pursuit of this, the minister recognised the key role of citizenship education:

"The Citizenship element of the National Curriculum has an important part to play in educating young people about democratic institutions and political processes".

Commenting on the minimum voting age, which the Electoral Commission has recommended to stay at 18, Mr Leslie acknowledged that there are arguments both for and against reducing it. "We are keeping this issue under review", he said.


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