Argentina has lowered its voting age from 18 to 16, which could allow politically ailing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to collect more young voters for the next election.
The legislation to lower the voting age, which was passed Oct. 31, allows more than 1 million new voters to cast ballots. The new law maintains compulsory voting is compulsory for Argentines between the ages of 18 and 70, but it will be discretionary for 16- and 17-year-olds.
In the lower house of Congress, the legislation was passed 131 to 2 during a controversial late-night session that caused many opposition members to walk out, Reuters reports.
Skeptics of the decision said the new legislation is aimed at skewing the 2013 election. Others said that the change was an incentive to get Argentina on the level of progressive countries such as Ecuador and Brazil, who have already cut their voting age to 16.
Fernandez fairs well among young voters. About 30,000 young people are part of her “Campora” movement, known for its riotous demonstrations on behalf of the president’s social and political policies.
Her popularity has fallen to below 25 percent due to hits on the Argentinian economy. The country has been experiencing slow demand with trade partner Brazil and high inflation rates.
Fernandez has been maintaining a majority in both houses of Congress, Reuters reports, but would need two-thirds of congressional support to gather an elected constitutional assembly. The 59-year-old president won a landslide re-election last year and has not faced a serious contender since.