Radical Democratic Inclusion: Why We Should Lower the Voting Age to 12

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Democratic societies such as the United Kingdom have come to fail their young citizens, often sacrificing their interests in a political process that gives much greater weight to the preferences and interests of older citizens. Against this background of intergenerational injustice, this article presents the case for a shift in the political system in the direction of radical democratic inclusion of younger citizens, through reducing the voting age to 12. This change in the voting age can be justified directly, with reference to the status, interests, and capacities of younger citizens, and it can also be justified as a remedy to existing forms of intergenerational injustice. This change in the voting age would require a parallel transformation in the role of second- ary schools as part of the ‘critical infrastructure’ of a democratic society, which would be part of a broader shift towards a more genuinely democratic political culture. The proposal is defended against less radical alternatives (such as votes at 16) and more radical alternatives (such as votes for younger children). The article concludes with some reflections on democracy and intergenerational justice in light of the Covid pandemic and the climate emergency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-212
Number of pages28
JournalRoyal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2022

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© The Royal Institute of Philosophy and the contributors 2022. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded with permission of the publisher/copyright holder. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details


  • democracy
  • intergenerational justice
  • generations
  • youth
  • social justice
  • voting
  • voting age
  • democratic theory
  • intergenerational conflict

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