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Universal suffrage

Universal suffrage (also general suffrage or common suffrage) is the extension of voting privileges to all adults, without distinction to race, sex, belief or social status.

Equal and Common Suffrage was, particular in Northern Europe, the slogan for the Democratic Movement of the late 19th century, unifying Liberals and Social Democrats.

The Movement for Universal Suffrage was a social, economic and political movement aimed at extending suffrage (the right to vote) to people of all races.

Many societies in the past have denied people the right to vote on the basis of race or ethnicity. Examples of this include the exclusion of people of African descent from voting in apartheid-era South Africa. In the pre-Civil Rights Era American South blacks were technically allowed to vote, but were prevented from exercising the vote by various means. The Ku Klux Klan formed after the Civil War largely to intimidate blacks and prevent them from voting.

Most societies today no longer maintain such provisions, but a few still do. For example, Fiji reserves a certain number of seats in its Parliament for each of its main ethnic groups; these provisions were adopted in order to discriminate against Indians in favour of ethnic Fijians. Pakistan reserves certain seats in parliament for voting by "frontier" tribes.


Universal suffrage has been granted (and been revoked) at various times in various countries throughout the world. (in chronological order):



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