As I wrote a few weeks ago, Ireland is voting on an important referendum on 22 May to potentially legalize same-sex marriage. However, citizens are also voting on another important referendum that day, one that would possibly lower the age at which people are eligible for presidential candidacy from 35 (as it also currently is in the U.S.) to 21.
Having recently been 21 myself, this seems ridiculous. I mean, at 21, you haven’t really done anything, no matter how many fancy pieces of paper you’ve earned or how motivated you are. In fact, you’ve probably just graduated from (or are still in) university and are most likely looking for a good-enough job that you don’t hate, not trying to take control of Ireland. I’m not saying that all 21-year-olds are hapless idiots without ambition, or that once you turn 35 you become magically “accomplished” or “experienced” enough to effectively run a country. Obviously, there are always exceptions. Who knows, maybe there will be a great political prodigy who becomes President and peacefully saves the world with youthful vigor. Maybe. Unlikely.
It seems strange that a referendum like this is even on the table, especially being voted for on the same day as a referendum that’s getting much more media coverage. If it did pass, there’s almost no way that enough people would support a very young candidate enough to elect her or him Uachtarán na hÉireann. So why vote on this thing that honestly feels pointless?
The idea behind it appears to be that the government is trying to appeal more to youth voters. There was supposed to be a referendum lowering the voting age from 18 to 16, which is reasonable, to be voted on this year, but it was dropped. Perhaps holding the vote on this referendum on the same day as the (rightly) attention-grabbing same-sex marriage referendum is a way of hiding it, another way of ignoring bills that would have an effect on young people’s participation in politics.
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