Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has today lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament calling for the age at which someone can stand as a candidate in elections to be lowered to 16, saying it is "strange that you can vote for other people’s political ideals at 16 but you can’t stand for your own".
His motion comes after Scottish Liberal Democrat party members endorsed plans put forward by the Scottish Young Liberals to lower the candidacy age at their Spring conference in Aviemore last weekend.
The move would build on 16 and 17-year-olds voting in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, 2016 Scottish Parliament elections and 2017 council elections.
According to research from the Electoral Reform Society, when 16-18 years olds are given the opportunity to vote they turn out in significantly higher numbers compared to those in the 18-25 age group.
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:
“Young people have boundless potential to shake up how we do things in Scotland and contribute to public debate. I want to see the candidacy age lowered so many more young people who have ideas and want to make a difference are encouraged to get involved.
“It seems strange that you can vote for other people’s political ideals at 16 but you can’t stand for your own. At 16 or 17, you can get married, work and pay your taxes, but you cannot take part in elections as a candidate and fully participate in community action.
"Liberal Democrats are fighting the case for investment in education and mental health and an exit from Brexit. These are issues young people care deeply about. The time has come for them to have a stronger voice in the debate.
“The Scottish Government should lower the candidacy age and help make politics a more welcoming world for young people.”
Christopher Wilson, Co-Chair of the Scottish Young Liberals, commented:
“We have now seen 16 and 17-year-olds given the vote in three national polls. They have proven they are more than capable of being informed and involved and it is now time to build upon that positive engagement.
“Lowering the minimum candidacy age to 16 will allow our inspiring young Scots to have a real impact on their local communities by fighting for them inside Parliament. It will increase the diversity of our Parliament too.
“If elected, I believe that young people can and will have a positive impact on our politics, our society and our world. Using their expertise and insight on issues such as youth homelessness, Curriculum for Excellence and mental health services, they can improve the decisions of those in power."