Scott Davidson; Older Voters: A Phantom Tyranny of Numbers? A Response to Berry: Young People and the Ageing Electorate: Breaking the Unwritten Rule of Representative Democracy. Parliam Aff 2012; 67 (3): 726-738. doi: 10.1093/pa/gss063
This article is a response to Berry's arguments on the impact of population ageing as potentially marginalising younger people in the democratic process. Berry constructs a pessimistic account where a powerful grey vote will enact an age-based ‘majority rule’ and posits this as a ‘democratic deficit’ that contravenes the ‘unwritten’ rules of democracy. This response argues that automatic assumptions of age-related majority rule are frequently based upon a highly flawed grey power model and the need to incorporate intergenerational and intra-family solidarity, as well as life-cycle factors into these debates. This response agrees that older voters are likely to become much more important in electoral politics, but not because they will vote as a bloc or aggressively pursue material self-interest, but because ageing policy challenges may increasingly attain the status of valence issues in future elections.