IATE Term of the Week: Universal suffrage




Jobs, climate change, migration, terrorism, business, you name it: all of these concerns and the course of action regarding them are determined by elections. Whether you participate or abstain, the impact is still felt.

As we are sure you are aware of, the right to vote in democratic elections was not an automatic right given to both men and women until the 20th century. It was Finland that became the first country, not only in Europe but worldwide, to implement full universal suffrage (this is also taking into consideration the right for women to stand as a parliamentary candidate) to its citizens. The last country in Europe to grant universal suffrage was Switzerland, as whilst they granted the vote to women in 1971m and in one individual canton, not until 1991.

Full universal suffrage in Europe in some places didn’t occur until 1991.

Since 1979, EU citizens have had the right to elect their state representatives in the European Parliament. Alongside this, the Treaty of Maastricht entitled all EU citizens to stand as a candidate in European Parliament elections, as well as the local elections in the Member State which they reside, independent of whether that have its nationality or not.

Speaking of European elections…your chance to participate is coming up shortly. From 23rd until 26th May this year, you have the opportunity to shape Europe’s future by electing the representatives you want in European Parliament. You can also get involved with encouraging others around you to vote too by signing up through the website thistimeimvoting.eu.