A federal voting age of 16 is unlikely to be introduced soon in Switzerland after a parliamentary commission charged with looking at the possibility rejected the idea this week, reported RTS.
On 21 April 2023, the commission rejected the idea by 14 votes to 11 and recommended dropping the plan.
After consulting with Switzerland’s cantons the commission found there was limited support for the idea of reducing the voting age from 18 to 16. 15 cantons rejected it and 7 supported it. The remaining four cantons didn’t take a position or were not part of the consultation.
At a party level, the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) and PLR/FDP were against it while the Socialist Party and two Green parties were in support of it. The environment is a dominant political issue for many young people so these parties probably had the most to gain politically from lowering the age.
The seven cantons supporting a younger voting age were Jura, Appenzell-Ausserrhoden, Bern, Basel-City, Solothurn, Graubunden and Glarus, the only Swiss canton to allow 16 year olds to vote at a cantonal level.
The cantons of Geneva, Fribourg and Uri didn’t take a position, pointing out that several moves to reduce the voting age at a cantonal level had already failed. Zurich didn’t take part in the consultation.
The key argument in favour of the plan was that it would include an additional 130,000 voters, 2.4% of the total. A key argument against it was that it would create disconnect between the voting age and the age at which citizens could put themselves forward for election, both currently 18.