Plans to allow 16 year olds to stand for Holyrood dropped

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The decision not to extend candidacy rights to teenagers risks another spat between the SNP and the Scottish Greens. and the junior partners in the administration had called for an extension of candidacy rights to include everyone who can vote.They secured a commitment in the Bute House Agreement to “promote legislation on electoral reform that enables more people to stand as candidates at Scottish Parliament and local government elections.” However, following a negative response to the consultation launched at the end of 2022, the Scottish Government’s new Scottish Elections (Representation and Reform) Bill, does not include the extension of candidacy rights to 16- and 17-year-olds.
READ MORE: Glasgow doctor: Fashion for wood burners harming children In the policy memorandum published alongside the Bill, the Scottish Government said they had “reflected on the concerns” around the “potential exposure of young people to intimidation, both as candidates and as representatives and also practical issues concerning travel to the Scottish Parliament or council headquarters and working hours.” The memorandum said ministers had recognised “these concerns and has concluded that the time is not right for an extension of candidacy rights to 16- and 17-year olds in this Bill.” The legislation does include a number of major reforms including allowing foreign nationals living and working in Scotland on a time-limited visa becoming eligible to stand as candidates in both Scottish Parliament and local government elections.
The legislation could also ban people from being MSPs if they are found guilty of intimidating MSPs, councillors, campaigners and electoral workers.
If passed it would also implement a number of changes to campaign rules for elections to “improve fairness, transparency, and controls against foreign spending.” It will also reduce the amount campaigners ineligible to register with the Electoral Commission can spend to £700 in Scottish Parliament elections, and there would be changes to the rules around third-party campaigners.
The legislation would also take forward “a range of measures based on experience with Covid-19” to make it easier to re-schedule elections in an emergency.
Holyrood’s Presiding Officer would be able to postpone national Scottish Parliament elections by eight weeks.
Ministers would also be allowed “to provide funding to drive up democratic engagement.” READ MORE: Scottish Government defends ‘appalling’ £186k egg donor drive The SNP Minister for Parliamentary Business George Adam said: “A robust electoral system is fundamental to the success of Scotland being an inclusive and vibrant democracy that makes everyone feel included and empowered.
“It is important that as many people in our society as possible feel they have an effective and independent means to hold government to account and feel encouraged take an active interest in politics and civic life including voting and standing for elections.
“Everyone living in Scotland should have a say on how Scotland is run and the wide-ranging measures in this Bill share the common thread of empowering everyone with an interest in improving democracy.”

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