IATE Term of the Week: Voting Age

February 2, 2018 6:08 pm

Democracy is one of the most treasured values in most countries around the world. Through this process, citizens are able to express their opinion and preferences as to who should be leading their countries for the next few years. Most countries give this right and duty to all citizens upon reaching the age of 18 years. However, some have opted for a lower age; such is the case in Argentina and Brazil where citizens are allowed to vote at 16, while others maintain a higher age such as Singapore and Malaysia where 21-year-olds and over are allowed to vote.

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When most democracies were established and the right to vote was introduced, the voting age stood at 21 or even higher in some cases. However, in the 1970s, many countries discussed this and reduced the voting age to 18. Today, many countries are discussing proposals to lower this age even further to 16 or even lower.

The most recent country to do so was the EU’s smallest state, Malta, where this week its Parliament voted unanimously to allow youngsters aged 16 to vote in general elections and European Parliament elections, as they have been able to vote in local council elections for some years. This makes Malta the second EU state after Austria to lower the voting age to 16 years, and one of the first 10 countries in the world to do so.

Elections and voting have been in the news around Europe in recent days. Italy, for instance, is preparing for its general elections that are to be held on the 4th of March. The electoral campaign is in full swing after the dissolution of Parliament by the President Sergio Mattarella on the 28th of December.

Ireland is another country that is currently preparing for a nationwide vote. This time, it will be to determine whether the country should retain or repeal article 40.3.3 of the constitution, known as the Eighth Amendment, which would basically reform the country’s abortion laws. Irish voters are set to head to the polling stations to voice their opinions in late May.

Because of all this election talk and the new voting legislation introduced, the term voting age has been selected as the IATE Term of the Week. It can be found in the IATE database, covered in a number of languages. This term is also presently being updated to continue to provide a better, more up-to-date list of entries.

voting age

Join us again next Friday for a new IATE Term of the Week, in relation to current events in Europe.

IATE Term of the Week - voting age


  • ‘Voting Age’, Wikipedia – available here [Accessed 31/01/2018]
  • ‘Parliament approves second reading of ‘Vote 16’ amendment, Malta Independent – available here [Accessed 01/02/2018]
  • ‘Elezioni politiche Italiane del 2018’, Wikipedia – available here [Accessed 02/02/2018]
  • ‘Elezioni politiche 2018: data, sondaggi aggiornati e candidati’, Termometro Politico – available here [Accessed 02/02/2018]
  • ‘Irish abortion referendum: vote to be held in May’, BBC News – available here [Accessed 01/02/2018]

Written by Veronica Lynn Mizzi : Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg). Graduate in the Maltese Language and Communication, and Master’s graduate in Translation and Terminology Studies from the University of Malta. Former journalist

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