Political parties, and voters, remain unconvinced about lowering the voting age

We asked some of the political party youth groups their thoughts on lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.

File picture of woman voting in election with Finnish flag behind / Credit: Getty Images

When it comes to lowering the voting age in Finland from 18 to 16, it seems the country is not yet convinced it’s a good idea.

And similarly, political parties are divided on the issue as well.

A new survey carried out on behalf of the Foundation for Municipal Development finds that slightly more than a quarter of people in Finland – 27% – support lowering the voting age.

Even among young people aged 18 to 30, the majority – 56% – opposes the move; and the opposition increases among older people over 60 where 82% of them say they have reservations about the concept.

So what do some of the main political parties think? We talked with some of the young people leading their youth groups to find out more.

File picture of Mikkel Näkkäläjärvi (SDP) / Credit: News Now Finland

Social Democrats:

The biggest party in parliament – lead by Prime Minister Antti Rinne – is split on the subject, with the youth group in favour and the main party against it for legal reasons.

“The Social Democratic Party’s position is that they’re not in favour, they’re against making the right to vote age lower, but the SDP youth, we are in favour” explains Mikkel Näkkäläjärvi, Chairman of the SDP Youth Group.

“To be honest I don’t understand what is their point of view, because to me it would be wise to lower it” he says, adding that it’s also about legal responsibilities that 18 year olds have, which 16 year olds do not have.

“Maybe it’s more about principals than expectations for some who oppose the suggestion” says Näkkäläjärvi.

Centre Party:

Recently-elected chair of the Centre Party Youth Hanna Markkanen says her party believes 16 year old should be able to vote in municipal and parliamentary elections.

“Young people are interested in politics, but not so interested in political parties. I think they are interested in things like education, climate and equality” she tells News Now Finland.

National Coalition Party – Kokoomus:

The National Coalition Party is firmly against the idea, from the perspective of the youth group and the main party.

“In short, the Youth of National Coalition Party supports the idea that voting is the right of those who are legal age” says Ali-Reza Abdali from Kokoomus Nuoret.

“Responsibility and rights should, in this case, walk hand in hand. So as long as the legal age is 18 in Finland, voting age should not be lowered” he says.

File picture of Frida Sigfrids, Chairperson of Svensk Ungdom / Credit: SU

Swedish People’s Party:

The Swedish People’s Party are another party where the youth group believes the voting age should be lowered, but the main party is not in favour.

“We often present the resolution to the party congress, but so far it has never passed. We are going to do it again” says Frida Sigfrids, Chairperson of Svensk Ungdom.

But Sigfrids says there’s plenty of young people who say themselves that they don’t think the voting age should be lowered.

“In the spring when we had elections I went to schools and I talked to many young people who didn’t want to vote at 16 and that is really interesting” she tells News Now Finland.

“Usually when we go to classes we find it’s 50/50 for 16 year olds who want to vote, and who didn’t want to vote. When I was 16 I wanted to vote, so I don’t get why they don’t!” she says.