2021 elections

SPD Proposes Lowering Voting Age to 16

Voter turnout for the election of Germany's federal parliament has been on the decline for decades. Source: Hendrik Schmidt / DPA

Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) wants to lower the voting age, Bild newspaper reported this week. According to a proposal for the party convention in June, the SPD would allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the 2021 national election.

Currently, voters need to be at least 18 years old. If the age were to be lowered by two years, 1.5 million more young people would be eligible to cast their ballots, although not in time for September’s election.

Overall, voter turnout in Germany has been on the decline since 1987, hitting a low point of 70.8 percent in the 2009 elections. In the 2013 election, when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives humiliated the SPD with a 16-point lead, turnout was slightly higher at 71.5 percent.

The highest turnout was recorded during the elections in 1972, with a whopping 91.1 percent casting their ballots. Only a year before, the voting age had been lowered from 21 to 18 and turnout for voters under 21 stood at 84 percent. The SPD appeared to benefit from that, getting 45.8 percent of votes.

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