Universal suffrage  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Universal suffrage (also universal adult suffrage, general suffrage or common suffrage) consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens (or subjects) as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and noncitizens. Although suffrage has two necessary components, the right to vote and opportunities to vote, the term universal suffrage is associated only with the right to vote and ignores the other aspect, the frequency that an incumbent government consults the electorate. Historically, universal suffrage often in fact refers to universal adult male suffrage.

The concept of universal suffrage originally referred to all male citizens having the right to vote, regardless of property requirements or other measures of wealth. The first system to explicitly claim to use universal suffrage was France which is generally recognized as the first national system to abolish all property requirements for voting. In theory France first used universal (male) suffrage in 1792 during the revolutionary period, although the turmoil of the period made this ineffective. France has used universal male suffrage continuously since 1848 (for resident citizens), longer than any other country.

In most countries, full universal suffrage including women followed universal male suffrage by about ten to twenty years. A notable exception is France, where women could not vote until 1944.

In the first modern democracies, the vote was restricted to those having adequate property and wealth, which almost always meant a minority of the male population. In some jurisdictions, other restrictions existed, such as restrictions on voters of a given religion. In all modern democracies the number of people who could vote increased gradually with time. The 19th century featured movements advocating "universal suffrage" (i.e. male) The democratic movement of the late 19th century, unifying liberals and social democrats, particularly in northern Europe, used the slogan Equal and Common Suffrage.

The concept of universal suffrage does not imply any impropriety in placing restrictions on the voting of convicted criminals or mentally ill persons. Such restrictions exist in many countries with universal suffrage. Equally some universal suffrage systems apply only to resident citizens.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Universal suffrage" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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