Universal suffrage

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The concept of universal suffrage, also known as general suffrage or common suffrage, consists of the right to vote of all except a small number of adult citizens (or subjects).


  • Government resting upon the will and universal suffrage of the people has no anchorage except in the people's intelligence.
    • President Grover Cleveland at the celebration of the sesquicentennial of Princeton College (October 22, 1896).
  • It is contradictory to say that the same person can be at the same time ruler and ruled. … The great ability of those who are in control in the modern world lies in making the people believe that they are governing themselves; and the people are the more inclined to believe this as they are flattered by it, as they are in any case incapable of sufficient reflection to see its impossibility. It was to create this illusion that “universal suffrage” was invented: the law is supposed to be made by the opinion of the majority, but what is overlooked is that this opinion is something that can very easily be guided and modified; it is always possible, by means of suitable suggestions, to arouse in it currents moving in this or that direction as desired. We cannot recall who it was that first spoke of “manufacturing opinion,” but this expression is very apt.
  • Un jour viendra où il n'y aura plus d'autres champs de bataille que les marchés s'ouvrant au commerce et les esprits s'ouvrant aux idées. Un jour viendra où les boulets et les bombes seront remplacés par les votes, par le suffrage universel des peuples, par le vénérable arbitrage d'un grand sénat souverain qui sera à l'Europe ce que le parlement est à l'Angleterre, ce que la diète est à l'Allemagne, ce que l'assemblée législative est à la France!
    • A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas. A day will come when the bullets and bombs are replaced by votes, by universal suffrage, by the venerable arbitration of a great supreme senate which will be to Europe what Parliament is to England, the Diet to Germany, and the Legislative Assembly to France.
    • Victor Hugo, Discours d'ouverture, congrès de la paix, [Opening address, Peace Congress], Paris (21 August 1849); published in Actes et paroles - Avant l'exil (1875).

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