Universal Adult Franchise
Universal Adult Franchise or Universal Adult Suffrageis the right of every citizen of a country to vote one’s own choice. No citizens should be discriminated irrespective of their caste, class, religion, education, gender, economic conditions, race or colour. Every citizen should have equal rights following the basic principle of democracy. Universal Adult Franchise enables citizens to choose their representatives into government and thereby getting involved in the governance.
The word suffrage comes from the Latin word “Suffragium” meaning “to support”. The basic principle of suffrage is same everywhere but may vary slightly from country to country. The minimum age required to exercise this right differ also differ from countries to countries. It ranges from 18 to 25 years of age.
According to history, the universal suffrage referred to the male having the right to vote. In the past voting was permitted only to the wealthy classes. Women and people of African descent were denied of this right too. It was the wealthy and the male members who could exercise this right. France is considered the first country to abolish the requirement of wealth to vote. Countries like France, Switzerland and Germany practised universal male suffrage since the beginning. New Zealand in 1893 became the first country to grant universal adult suffrage to all its citizens.