Give 16 year olds the vote and help renew democracy says The Co-operative

February 15, 2010

The UK’s largest democratic organisation, The Co-operative, today (15 February) joined the Votes At 16 coalition and called for the voting age to be lowered.

The Co-operative believes lowering the voting age to sixteen would boost democratic and parliamentary renewal in the UK and energise young people to better engage in society.

Sixteen year olds can already leave home, pay taxes, get married and join the armed forces but are unable to vote on decisions that affect them for at least a further two years.

Peter Marks, Group Chief Executive of The Co-operative Group said: “In the past two years over 550,000 young people have voted in UK Youth Parliament elections and a quick glance at any social media website demonstrates that our young people are not short of opinions.

“The Co-operative’s work on community partnerships such as the British Youth Film Academy and StreetGames has shown us that when our young people are provided with supported opportunities they can be truly inspiring.”

For over a century, The Co-operative, which has more than five million members, has operated a democratic structure that is fully open to people aged 16 and above.

As part of its campaign, The Co-operative is seeking cross-party support for the move which would enable all those aged 16 and over to participate in Parliamentary, European and Local elections, and is urging all the major parties to include it in their manifestos. If adopted, this would add a total of 1.5 million voters to the UK electorate.

More details of The Co-operative’s campaign can be found at