Austria will make history in the European Union on Sunday by becoming the first member of the 27-nation bloc to give 16-year-olds a voice in national elections.
Following the collapse in July of the governing coalition between the center-left Social Democrats and the center-right People’s Party, 10 parties have said they want to govern the Alpine republic. But only about half have a realistic chance of making it into Parliament, where 183 seats are up for grabs.
With a tight race predicted at the top, the two main parties are flirting with first-time voters and – to some extent – making an effort to cater to a younger crowd.
“The 2008 parliamentary elections are predominantly going to be decided by people over the age of 50,” said Ferdinand Karlhofer, head of the University of Innsbruck political science department…
Giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote may improve the balance between the generations. But the core of the messages from the parties focuses more on middle-aged and elderly voters, he said.
Still, political parties in the West like to sound as if they’re young and hip. It impresses the thirty-plus crowd who hate like hell to admit they’re heading towards middle age. For that matter, I imagine the pols like to impress themselves with their avant-garde shucking and jiving.
Except the conservatives, of course.