Infant political agency: Redrawing the epistemic boundaries of democratic inclusion

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Epistemic impairment has been the decisive yardstick when excluding infants from political agency. One of the suggestions to bypass the epistemic requirement of political agency and to encourage the inclusion of infants in representative democracies is to resort to proxies or surrogates who share or advocate interests which may be coincidental with their interests. However, this solution is far from desirable, given that it privileges the political agency of parents, guardians and trustees over other adult citizens. This article offers an alternative to this conceptual frame of reference by making a case for the political agency of infants. Firstly, it maintains that political agency can be understood in terms of the several facets involved in political representation. Secondly, it claims that the all-affected principle can be reformulated as an
‘infant-affected-interests principle’ in light of which infants are members of the class of the represented. Thirdly, it explores the ways through which this political agency can occur without having to resort to alternative conceptions of representation. The conclusion ascertains that infant enfranchisement is highly undesirable and that there are more viable forms to promote infant political agency, such as virtual representation, infant-beneficial principles of political action and ombudspersons for infants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-389
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
Issue number2
Early online dateSept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Child enfranchisement
  • constituency
  • infant-affected-interests principle
  • infants
  • ombudsperson
  • political agency
  • representation


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