Scotland could soon have the youngest parliamentarians in the entire world.
The SNP is looking to extend the right to stand for election to all those entitled to vote, lowering the age limit for candidacy from 18 to 16.
Currently Scots can vote in Holyrood and local council elections from the age of 16, while voting for Westminster and English councils is 18 – also the minimum age for standing for office.
However this could soon change, meaning the council elections on May 5 may be the last where 16 and 17 year olds cannot be on the ballot sheet.
Young people have ‘so much’ to contribute
Emma Roddick became Holyrood’s youngest MSP when she was elected to the Highlands and Islands region last year at the age of 24.
Prior to that, she had been a Highland councillor for two years.
She said she supports the move as it would create a “more diverse, representative” parliament.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Ms Roddick said: “Young people have so much to contribute to our politics and, more than that, they have the biggest stake in ensuring we make the right decisions for their future, as we saw only a few months ago at COP26.
“We are all served better by more diverse, representative parliaments and councils so bringing the age of elected members to the same as voters is completely logical.”
Likelihood of young people being elected
The UK does not have a strong tradition of electing younger people to parliament.
Mhairi Black became the youngest MP to be elected to Westminster since the 1832 Reform Act in 2015 at the age of just 20.
And you would need to go all the way back to the 18th century to find an MP in their 20s.
William Pitt the Younger became an MP at the age of 21 in 1781 and in December 1783 became the UK’s youngest prime minister at the age of just 24.
Should Scotland introduce this lower age limit, it would be in stark contrast to a lot of other countries.
In Italy for example, the president must be at least 50, and at least 45 in China and Singapore.
Meanwhile in the US presidents must be over the age of 35, senators 30, and representatives 25 – the current US President Joe Biden is 79.