The current minimum age to run as a presidential candidate in Ireland is 35. The referendum on May 22nd, gives us the opportunity to lower that age to 21.
I didn’t think about this referendum too much, because I believe that with all the responsibilities you have as a 21 year old, you might just as well be able to run for Presidency. After all, you can drive a car, you can vote, you may have a family, you may run a company. There’s not really anything you can’t do as a 21 year old. I then stumbled across an Irish Times article and there happened to be an online poll “for” or “against” the age drop for presidential candidates. I didn’t think twice and participated. Believing that surely everyone was thinking the way I did, I was surprised to see the result. Two thirds were against the lowering of the minimum age.
I talked to a friend about this and again, I was surprised when she said “well, I think 21-year olds are too immature”.
Is this the problem? Too immature? Well, I have to say, that I know quite a few very mature and interesting 21-year olds and I also know quite a few immature 35-year olds. Allowing the age to be lowered doesn’t automatically lead to an immature 21-year old to be voted into the presidential office. It merely means that a 21-year old person can run for office. Whether we, the electorate, deem the candidate to be fit for the office will be decided during the candidacy process. So, let’t think again. The question is not, whether we will have to have an immature 21-year old President. The question is, will we allow a 21-year old Irish person to run for presidency.
I think we should.