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Politicians attend the first meeting of the Constitutional Convention last October. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Convention votes to lower voting age, rejects reduction of presidential term

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention’s first full meeting this weekend also backed a proposal for ordinary citizens to be able to nominate a candidate for the president.

THE FIRST BALLOT of members of the Constitutional Convention has seen delegates vote in favour of lowering the voting age but oppose a reduction in the term of office of the president.

The results come after the Convention held its first full meeting at the Grand Hotel in Malahide, north Dublin this weekend where 100 delegates – 66 members of the public, 33 politicians and chairman Tom Arnold – discussed two of the nine issues being considered by the Convention.

The government has promised to consider all recommendations put forward by the Convention.

Fifty-two delegates voted in favour of lowering the voting age while 47 of those present voted against the idea and one had no opinion.

Of these 48 delegates were in favour of lowering the voting age to 16, thirty-nine wanted it lowered to 17. Fourteen delegates had no opinion.

Fifty-one delegates voted against reducing the age of the candidacy to stand for elections – which is currently 21 – while 42 said the age should be reduced. Seven said they did not know.

On the proposal to reduce the voting age for other types of elections such as locals, 68 people said they would be against this idea, 28 were for it and five said they didn’t know.

Presidential terms

On reducing the term of the presidency from seven to five years, 57 people were against the idea while 43 were for it.

Asked if the term of the presidency were reduced should it be aligned with local and European elections, 80 people said it should not be while 14 said it should be while six had no opinion.

The Convention overwhelmingly backed a proposal for citizens to have a say in the nomination of a candidate – at present a presidential candidate needs the support of 20 Oireachtas members or four local councils – with 94 saying Yes and six saying No.

A one-term presidency of seven years split delegates with 44 voting in favour of this and 44 voting against while 12 did not know. A one-term presidency of five years was rejected by 78 people, accepted by 14 people and eight did not know.

On reducing the age for the candidacy for presidential elections – which is currently 35 – half of delegates were in favour of this, 47 were against and three did not know.

Column: What kind of Constitutional Convention do you want?

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