Ignacio Cura, a floppy-haired high-school student, belongs to a new generation of voters that will cast some of its first ballots tomorrow in Argentina’s mid-term elections. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s ruling Peronist alliance, the Front for Victory, passed a controversial law last year that lowers the voting age from 18 to 16. More than half a million youngsters in this nation of 40 million people have since opted to join Mr. Cura on the electoral roll. Critics see the law as a blatant attempt by President Kirchner to harness extra votes in uncertain times for her leftist government, which is popularly believed to count young people among its most fervent supporters. But others say it is a tool for widening democracy and a political extension of Kirchner’s liberal social policies. “This started as a government plan to capture a new mass vote,” says Sergio Berensztein, a political analyst at Poliarquía, a Buenos Aires consultancy. “But that vote is not homogenous.”
The general consensus here is that views among young people are more nuanced – perhaps giving weight to the claims of Diana Conti, a Front for Victory lawmaker, who said the law was “neither opportunistic nor demagogic.”
Pro-Kirchner groups, for instance, have not been elected to run any of the student associations at the University of Buenos Aires, the biggest university in Argentina with more than 300,000 students. And Cura, who is 16, says he will not vote tomorrow for the Front for Victory.
In a recent Poliarquía poll, 49 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds across the country said they would vote for opposition parties.