Hungary To Give Mothers Extra Votes For Their Children In Elections

Hungary-women-births-008Via the Guardian, an intriguing concept — children are citizens with a stake in the future (the largest stake in the future!) yet their interests are not adequately represented in elections. Is allowing parents to vote on their behalf a way to counter the disproportionate power of the elderly? Hungary is set to find out:

“Some 20% of society are children…This is quite a considerable group that is left out of representation. The interests of these future generations are not represented in decision-making. We know at first it seems an unusual idea, but in the 50s it was unusual to give votes to black people; 100 years ago, it was unusual to give votes to women.”

In a move that would be unprecedented in a modern democracy, Hungary’s new government is considering giving mothers with small children extra votes in elections.

The conservative Fidesz party has made several controversial decisions since coming to power on a populist rightwing agenda, including a crackdown on the media, but the latest proposal could be prove to be its most contentious.

[The concept is] inspired by the work of the American demographer Paul Demeny, who developed the concept in 1986. Under Demeny Voting, each parent is given half a vote for each child, permitting a split vote in the event that the parents have differing political loyalties.

The discourse on Demeny Voting first emerged in Germany and Japan in the 2000s as a solution to concerns that policy development is biased in favour of the elderly rather than young families. In early March, the Centre for Intergenerational Studies at Hitotsubashi University held a conference on the subject.

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  • ARTS-IIIe

    Very bad idea, on so – so many fronts.

  • ARTS-IIIe

    Very bad idea, on so – so many fronts.

  • ARTS-IIIe

    Very bad idea, on so – so many fronts.

  • Bud Bundy

    There are a dozen reasons why this is a bad idea.

  • Bud Bundy

    There are a dozen reasons why this is a bad idea.

    • Haystack

      What are they?

  • Haystack

    What are they?

  • grenichgrendel

    So…if each parent gets an extra half vote, why does the headline say it gives mothers, specifically, extra votes? That isn’t all that is misleading. Whatever talking head they quoted is presenting this as giving children a voice in government, but that isn’t what this does, it gives the segment of the population who have under age children a louder voice. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad because I don’t know anything about Hungary and because I am not a social scientist. I’m just saying this does not seem as if it’s being presented directly or honestly by, um, anybody.

  • Anonymous

    So…if each parent gets an extra half vote, why does the headline say it gives mothers, specifically, extra votes? That isn’t all that is misleading. Whatever talking head they quoted is presenting this as giving children a voice in government, but that isn’t what this does, it gives the segment of the population who have under age children a louder voice. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad because I don’t know anything about Hungary and because I am not a social scientist. I’m just saying this does not seem as if it’s being presented directly or honestly by, um, anybody.

  • Synapse

    What was wrong with 3/5s? This will skew the voting significantly as they’re giving more weight to people with kids, not making up for the fact that the kids are “unrepresented”. I agree that kids are important, but I don’t see why someone with kids should have more of a say than someone without. It’s not as if a childless couple cares less about kids than parents.

  • Synapse

    What was wrong with 3/5s? This will skew the voting significantly as they’re giving more weight to people with kids, not making up for the fact that the kids are “unrepresented”. I agree that kids are important, but I don’t see why someone with kids should have more of a say than someone without. It’s not as if a childless couple cares less about kids than parents.

  • Synapse

    What was wrong with 3/5s? This will skew the voting significantly as they’re giving more weight to people with kids, not making up for the fact that the kids are “unrepresented”. I agree that kids are important, but I don’t see why someone with kids should have more of a say than someone without. It’s not as if a childless couple cares less about kids than parents.

    • Haystack

      I agree with you that it would skew voting, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. In effect, this is “children’s suffrage,” granting political influence to kids by way of their parents.

      While most people care about kids in a general sense, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into insight or awareness of the issues that affect them, or a willing to make sacrifices (i.e. pay tax) on their behalf. The article cites a large elderly population in Hungary–it’s certainly easy to imagine that, human nature being what it is, elderly people would tend favor policies which are in their short-term (by definition) interests without necessarily being concerned with future generations.

      I don’t have kids myself, but it doesn’t strike me as such as such a bad thing that those who do should have more say. Think of it this way–you have two childless men trapped on a desert island with a mother of three. How would it be fair to distribute resources? Into thirds, or sixths? If we proceed from the assumption that people, more often than not, tailor their political beliefs to suit their own interests, then it would seem that you would need to skew the voting system to give more weight to adults who represent children’s interests as well as their own.

  • Haystack

    I agree with you that it would skew voting, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. In effect, this is “children’s suffrage,” granting political influence to kids by way of their parents.

    While most people care about kids in a general sense, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into insight or awareness of the issues that affect them, or a willing to make sacrifices (i.e. pay tax) on their behalf. The article cites a large elderly population in Hungary–it’s certainly easy to imagine that, human nature being what it is, elderly people would tend favor policies which are in their short-term (by definition) interests without necessarily being concerned with future generations.

    I don’t have kids myself, but it doesn’t strike me as such as such a bad thing that those who do should have more say. Think of it this way–you have two childless men trapped on a desert island with a mother of three. How would it be fair to distribute resources? Into thirds, or sixths? If we proceed from the assumption that people, more often than not, tailor their political beliefs to suit their own interests, then it would seem that you would need to skew the voting system to give more weight to adults who represent children’s interests as well as their own.

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