Sweet Sixteen in the U.K.
Old enough to drive, old enough to vote. That's the conclusion of a British parliamentary commission, which recommended lowering the voting age to 16 years of age as part of a broader effort to reinvigorate democracy in the United Kingdom.
Gordon Brown, heir-apparent to Prime Minister Tony Blair, once opposed the idea but now says he supports it.
So does the liberal Independent: "Democracy faces meltdown in Britain as the public rejects an outdated political system which has centralised more authority than ever in a tiny ruling elite, the Power inquiry warns today," the London daily reports. It gives sympathetic coverage to the commission's "plan to revive Britain's dying democracy."
"The report will make uncomfortable reading for the Prime Minister, whose critics accuse him of eroding trust in politicians by going to war in Iraq on a false prospectus. But it could provide some of the key planks of a drive to re-engage people in politics already planned by Gordon Brown, his most likely successor," says the Independent.
The conservative Daily Telegraph is less enthusiastic: "It is difficult to see how extending the franchise into the fifth form [the British equivalent of 11th grade] would reverse the trend that the Power Inquiry was established to address, namely voters' disgust with politicians. ... The creation of a new class of juvenile voter - for the young are notoriously unimpressed by politicians - might, perversely, further reduce the proportion of the electorate participating in elections."
More important than lowering the voting age, says the Telegraph, is encouraging "the localisation of democracy" in the United Kingdom.
The Daily Mail welcomed the report but said "the erosion of trust is likely to go on undermining our political culture. How sad, in a nation that was once an example of vibrant democracy."
Here is the Independent's summary of the Commission's recommendations.
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