Faced with these headwinds, the president has come up with a novel solution to an unfriendly electorate: packing i...
Faced with these headwinds, the president has come up with a novel solution to an unfriendly electorate: packing it with new voters likely to support her. On October 18th the Senate voted to lower the minimum voting age from 18 to 16, by an overwhelming margin of 52-3. The bill will now pass the lower house of Congress, where it is also expected to pass in time for next year_s election. If it is approved, Argentina will become the fifth country to allow people under 18 to vote, joining Austria, Brazil, Cuba and Nicaragua.
Although reliable polling data is not available on the political leanings of this age group, Ms Fern__ndez has reason to expect their support. The older voters get, the less likely they are to support the president: a recent poll found that the gap between her approval and disapproval ratings was nine percentage points bigger among people between ages 18 and 29 than among those over 50. Moreover, Ms Fern__ndez_s supporters have been working hard to improve her image among young people: La C__mpora, a political organisation led by M__ximo Kirchner, the president_s son, has begun holding workshops in public schools. The new law will add anywhere from 1.4m to 2.1m people to the electoral rolls.
However, their vote will be optional rather than mandatory, as it is for adults, and getting them to the polls may prove difficult. In C__rdoba province, where 16- and 17-year-olds have been able to vote for local officials since 1999, just 150 of 50,000 cast ballots in the last election. According to a survey by Poliarqu__a, a political consulting firm, a majority of 16- and 17-year-olds themselves disagree with the law. Even if their turnout matches that of the overall population, most analysts expect it to move the needle in Ms Fern__ndez_s favour by a modest two percentage points. That could make the difference in a close vote. But the president will need to improve her standing significantly for such a small edge to become relevant.
By The Economist