Argentina lowers its voting age to 16

November 1, 2012

Argentinean lawmakers approved a bill lowering the country’s voting age to 16 from 18 Wednesday, a move that could boost support for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who polls well among younger voters.

A banner with the image of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner being displayed at the Congress in Buenos Aires on Oct. 31, 2012. (Getty)
A banner with the image of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner being displayed at the Congress in Buenos Aires on Oct. 31, 2012 (Getty)

Voting is compulsory for Argentineans between the ages of 18 and 70, but it will be voluntary for 16- and 17-year-olds under the new law.

Fernandez hopes her party, the Victory Front coalition, can gain seats in the country's 2013 midterm elections in order to increase the likelihood of a constitution change that would allow Fernandez to run for a third term in 2015.

The country's youth activists apparently support an extended Fernandez presidency, with some of her fans carrying banners that read “Cristina Forever” at recent rallies, Bloomberg reported.

Although it sounds unorthodox to have high-schoolers heading to the ballot box, several countries in the region already allow young people to vote, including Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

Still, some are skeptical that the new law will do much for Fernandez's approval ratings, which have hovered near 50 percent amid slowing growth there.

"It is evident that an electoral strategy lies behind the promotion of the youth vote," Argentinean analyst Ignacio Labaqui told The Telegraph. "But despite being teenagers, young people live in the same country as other voters. So if the climate towards the government continues to deteriorate, the government's approval rating among younger people should also decline."

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Max Fisher · November 1, 2012