Call to let 16-year-olds stand for Holyrood elections

The Liberal Democrats have lodged a motion at Holyrood calling for the minimum age for candidates standing in Scottish Parliamentary elections to be lowered to 16.

Age change: Cole-Hamilton. Picture: Greg Macvean

MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said it was “strange that you can vote for other people’s political ideals at 16 but you can’t stand for your own”.

Party members voted in favour of the motion at the Scottish Lib Dem conference in Aviemore last week. The move would bring the candidacy age in line with the Holyrood voting franchise.

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Cole-Hamilton said: “Young people have boundless potential to shake up how we do things in Scotland and contribute to public debate. I want to see the candidacy age lowered so many more young people who have ideas and want to make a difference are encouraged to get involved.

“At 16 or 17, you can get married, work and pay your taxes, but you cannot take part in elections as a candidate and fully participate in community action. Liberal Democrats are fighting the case for investment in education and mental health and an exit from Brexit. These are issues young people care deeply about. The time has come for them to have a stronger voice in the debate.

“The Scottish Government should lower the candidacy age and help make politics a more welcoming world for young people.”

Christopher Wilson, co-chair of the Scottish Young Liberals, said younger candidates could have expertise and insight on issues such as youth homelessness, education and mental health services.

He said: “We have now seen 16 and 17-year-olds given the vote in three national polls. They have proven they are more than capable of being informed and involved and it is now time to build upon that positive engagement.”