I am utterly intrigued by the concept of giving children a vote.
The new Hungarian government is considering giving mothers with small children an extra vote in elections, so that they can vote on behalf of their children. I’m not sure how ‘up to date’ you are with your Hungarian politics, (yeah, me neither), but in short, the conservative Fidesz party have come up with various controversial policies since coming into power, and this proposal is its most controversial yet.
József Szájer, a senior Fidesz official and MEP, said that 20% of Hungarian society consists of children.
"This is quite a considerable group that is left out of representation. The interests of these future generations are not represented in decision-making."
He added: "We know at first it seems an unusual idea, but in the 50s it was unusual to give votes to black people; 100 years ago, it was unusual to give votes to women."
Well, technically, he’s right, isn’t he? It’s the votes we take and the decisions we make today that influence our children.
Looking at the 2001 census data for England, the children under voting age made up just over 20% of the population – similar to Hungary’s stats – which, as Szájer said, is a pretty big chunk of the pie.
I have to wonder, if children were given a voice, would it make any difference? Would they vote to shut or reduce SureStart centres? Would they vote to close libraries? Or 1 o’clock clubs? Or community services such as breastfeeding cafes?
Of course, I know that children don’t really understand the value of money, and won’t get that the government is trying to claw us out of a financial hole, but since it’s them that will have to pay pensions and medical and so on for a bunch of old people down the line I do like the thought of them having some say in the matter – perhaps not infants and toddlers, but young people are able to contribute or detract from society so much more from a much younger age now, so maybe it’s time they start having a say in it too? Children stop being children so much earlier than they used to, so rather than repress them, frustrating and prohibiting them, maybe they should be given more responsibility.
If you’re old enough to take responsibility for your actions, shouldn’t you also be given the opportunity to take responsibility for your future?
Image credit: Ian Britton