Perhaps one of the biggest aids in encouraging Jordanian youth to get involved in politics is the lowering of the voting age. And I’m not talking about various debate skirmishes in the past few years that finally resulted in lowering the voting from 19 to 18 in the last elections (2003) but rather from 18 to 16. It’s one of those things I always thought about in the back of my mind and I think it warrants worthy consideration given the fact that half the country is under the age of 25.
One could argue that granting youth the ability to vote at a young age instills a sense of social responsibility as well as democratic values at the core of the citizenry.
However, what this issue relies on is the question of whether a Jordanian at the age of 16 has the ability to make conscious political decisions.
In any case, I think it’s an issue that deserves to be debated on a national level.
What do you think?
For Jordan in particular I don’t really think it is a good idea.
Simply put for each 10 voting out of political awareness 90 will vote in line with external influences!
And unless an extensive program to address political awareness is launched in schools and is already extremely successful I think it is a none-starter.
PS. I think hell will freeze over before such a program is implemented. If university students are discouraged from politics (put mildly) what are the chances of encouraging politics in schools!
You might find this interesting:
Think about it this way. Most of these votes are going to be used the wrong way. Basically there will be an increased voter turn out, but it won’t be due to the young generation’s excitement to participate in the political process. It will be due to the adults’ excitement about gaining more votes. Basically, every man will have more than one vote: his, and his children’s who can now be over 16, not just over 18.
Before we do this, we have to solve the problem of people voting based on pressure from those who have the influence in the household. It’s actually also interesting that most likely, the families that have most children between the ages of 16 and 18 who would now be eligible are those who also are most likely to exhibit this phenomenon of voting based on the influence of the man of the household.
I dont think so.
It should be raised, I think
Nidal & Hamzeh: your arguments are substantial ones and i share similar concerns so i can’t say i disagree with you.
however the concept of saying that young people shouldn’t vote because their suspect to external influences were similar arguments used against historically disenfranchising many groups around the world. for example women and blacks in America.
also there’s no way of knowing the exact outcome until after it’s happened. i have no doubt there will be external influences BUT in any political election with any given age group, people often succumb to social influences on who they should for regardless of their age.
think of it this way…
in Jordan we’re still living with people who vote based on their family’s last name…
how politically aware are those people compared to the average 16 year old.
lastly, i agree, and it goes without saying, that political awareness should be embedded through the educational programs.
hamede: why not? 🙂
Thank you Nas for raising this issue. Personally; I do believe that a priority should be given to reducing the age for those planning to run for elections (which is 30 at the moment).
Refering to what Nidal mentioned and being informed about the work of the UK Youth Parliament; please note that there is a whole campaign running these days demanding to reduce the age to 16; however people there very skeptical towards it; even some of the MYPs (Members of Youth Parliament)themselves!
Tala, that’s an interesting viewpoint and yeah i would have to agree in terms of priorities that should come first. although i think the minimum age to join a party is 18. so there might be something to be said of having plenty of room to gain experience before running under a party.
reducing the voting age is more broad in its concept and what i mean by that is that it has a bigger social impact than anything else.
Because i do not think that 16 years old in jordan are politicly responsible or accountable,it is like i wont to be PM.
Yea I think it should be lowered. The influence of others in the household is a whole different issue. Lowering the age will gradually change how people vote, it’s not like 16 year olds listen to anyone nowadays. I don’t think it should be a problem, I see it as a solution, a way to promote independence, individualism, enhance the sense of responsibility among young people and make them in a way more into politics and domestic affairs. I’m not saying all that will happen at once, but little by little eventually we’ll get there. To those worried about external influence, consider it early preparation for when they become 18, isn’t that better than starting to be influenced at 18 and having to struggle for a couple more years trying to figure out where they stand on everything? think of it as an acceleration of all that.
Hamede: just for the argument’s sake: like i said before most people in jordan vote for their family name so it can be argued that they too are not politically respponsible.
as for political accountability…i dont know what you mean by that when it comes to the voter.
shaden: thats an interesting way of looking at it, but it can be argued i supposed that a person at 16 knows no more about where they politically stand than a person at 18.
Nas, I don’t think I totally dismissed the idea, and I always welcome debates and I think this is a good one. My point is that while everyone should be free to debate this today, I don’t think any of us would be right if they asked for this proposal to be implemented in the short term. Not before we make sure that when people, even adults over 18, in Jordan vote, that they know what they’re doing and that they have good reasons to make those votes. Reasons that reflect responsibility towards their country and people in it, not reasons that have to do with favoring their relatives or friends so that they can then be favored in return.
I’m not sure it would make any difference.
These same ….. will be voting in ten years anyways with same 33333 up mentality….so why bother?
a sense of social responsibility as well as democratic values at the core of the citizenry.
If you consider a 16 years old dragged by the Haj to vote for Ibin 3amhum or else, then sure.
Come on guys, Jordanians actually are for honor crimes, jailing journalists and such. Look at our parliament and governments (with all due respect to all its members) it’s a true representation of the Jordanian society.
As far as our educational system is as it’s, don’t dream much.Just go to Raghdan bus complex and you’ll know what I mean.
Hamzeh: but don’t the values you speak of have a higher chance of being achieved if they are instilled to those much younger? the same way we would get more positive results if religion was taught correctly to the young rather than focusing so much on reforming those that are older.
Firas: “itÃ¢??s a true representation of the Jordanian society.” no i would say it a true representations of a misrepresentation of the jordanian society.
lets say, hypothetically, we resorted to legislating according to every single citizen voting “yes” or “no” on whether they want to see honor crimes banned. do you think the result would have the similar outcome it does in parliament?
to say nothing of the fact that parliamentary elections rely on disproportionate voting districts with relations to their respective demographics.
“If you consider a 16 years old dragged by the Haj to vote for Ibin 3amhum or else, then sure”
perhaps, but i’m inclined to believe this would not be the general case. at least not in the long run.
but that’s just me.
Aha! But that’s exactly the core of my worries. Why? Because now when 16 year olds don’t vote, parents don’t think of pressuring them to adopt their own political views. The kids are left to learn stuff from their schools. Teachers don’t have to worry about telling kids not to listen to their parents because their parents, today when they’re 16 years old, are not telling them who to vote for.
If you let 16 year old high school kids vote today, everything they get taught in school will be contested by parents. And just like when parents were complaining to one fellow blogger’s boss about the books she was giving their daughter, rest assured parents are gonna come and complain about the ideas (right ideas) that a lot of teachers are teaching their children. This doesn’t happen today because parents don’t actually worry about it
Not that our current way of teaching kids the values of what firas calls social responsibility and good citizenry is anywhere near enough, but my point is that this proposal will only make that task which is much more needed today and has been since decades ago, even more difficult.
Main point, don’t invite trouble from the parents. Focus on making education better and prepare generations that can actually stand up to their parents.
Hamzeh: you’re saying basically that lowering the voting age will lead to avoidable conflict between teachers and parents.
I disagree with this point. i’m not saying it wouldnt happen, just not on the magnitude you might be imagining.
i say this because you really have to consider the mentality of students in jordan. how many of them on average know more about political issues than their international counter parts? moreover their positions tend to be formulated from early social conditioning, predominantly the household, rather than the school. and social conditioning is inevitable.
i agree there should be a focus on improving education and i see the role it plays with this issue, but i dont see it as a deal breaker for lowering the voting age.
I honestly don’t know, and would need a study to believe in any numbers. But I don’t see how this addresses my point. What do their international counterparts have to do with what their family tells them vs. what the school tells them?
Fair enough if you wanna say so, but I don’t see how that negates what I was saying about having this conflict happen between the school and the household in any way.
Your concern is regarding the magnitude. Well, all you have to do is look around: what’s the current quality (not necessarily quantity) of political participation by adults? It’s bad pretty much all across the country. What’s the current level of influence from the “main figures” in the family or household? It’s pretty high across all slices of society. What makes you think that won’t carry over in the same dominating trend to people who are not even adults, especially in a society like ours where you literally are your parents’ baby until you’re married off and have a house of your own and even then, you’re still not entirely free?
You think a parent in Jordan is gonna let their 16 year old kid, even 20+ years of age, run around and do whatever they want politically without interfering with them? Without trying to stop them? Without trying to “protect them”? Can you not see the golden opportunity people are going to find in this proposal? they’re gonna think “oh, now I can have kids’ votes, i’ll have all my friends whome i already can persuade to vote for me force their children to vote for me too”. This is something that happens with children even over 18 years old and it is more likely to happen with younger kids.
16 year olds might be mature enough to formulate opinions, but I think at this moment we should worry about this safety zone that we have with kids when they’re between the age of 16 and 18 and focus on giving the school maximum reign when it comes to enhancing their political matureness.
The social preconditioning that you’re talking about won’t stand a chance in front of good programs by schools, and when parents know their kids still can’t vote, they will be reluctant to interfere until their kids can actually vote when they’re 18.
plenty, as we have to factor in the fact that on average our youth are more aware of the socio-political status quo of the region compared to say american kids their own age. something which one might think is important when formulating an informed decision.
as for the parental influence…
i dont deny that it will exist, but you brought up the bad quality of adult participation in politics. wouldn’t lower the voting age lead to a higher quality in say two generations?
forget about the inevitable road bumps in the short run…think about generations from now when 16 is the new 18 in society. when its become normalised.
moreover when we talk about jordan, where elections are still not where they’re supposed to be in the sense that parties are still weak and people still vote for family anyways; we might as well take advantage of it and have the voting age lowered to decrease any negative effects.
i think 16 year olds should have right to vote because our parents and teachers are always telling us to grow up and get a life