Opinion: Lack of political power among young people puts Germany at risk | Reviews | DW

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Do young German voters have the opportunity to lobby politically for their own interests? While I would like to answer this question with “yes”, the honest answer, unfortunately, is “no”.

In Germany, older voters decide the country’s political future, which also applies to the federal vote in 2021. Their demographic supremacy is overwhelming: official statistics show that 57% of all voters are over the age of 50 , while 14.4% are under 30 years old.

Climate protection is important, pensions are more important

It’s not just voters who are older, politicians are too. In the current Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, only three of the 709 representatives are under 30 years old. Of the 6,211 candidates on Sunday’s ballot, 1,032 are under 30.

DW editor Astrid Prange

No matter how you try to see it, the interests of young people stand no chance in Germany without the support of the older generations. Look no further than the debate around the issue of climate protection, which is of particular importance to young people.

Older Germans’ support for the question varies from survey to survey, but the most recent DeutschlandTrend shows that a clear majority of Germans, 81% to be precise, see a lot of protection work to be done. of the climate.

A representative survey conducted in July and August by the Union for the Conservation of Nature and Biodiversity (NABU), a German environmental association, found that only around 30% of people over 50 would consider ” climate and environmental protection interests of young people ”when choosing how they would vote.

Infographic showing voting preferences of 16-24 year olds and all age groups

The national voting age is 18 in Germany

New policies for old people?

The September 26 election could offer the oldest candidate for chancellor in history the opportunity to lay the groundwork for change. It is Olaf Scholz, 63, Minister of Finance, Vice-Chancellor and choice of the Social Democratic Party to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel, who hopes to form a government with the Greens that will advance climate protection.

Even when every political party talks about the importance of young people, their main concern when developing the party platform is not to scare older voters. At a campaign event, Scholz even squeezed his fingers in classic Merkel pose to show he represented consistency.

Demographic change is forcing the hand of democracy, and when it comes to forming political opinions, the elderly have more influence than the younger generations.

In theory, older voters could use their political influence to defend the interests of their children and grandchildren and at the same time harness their own power. In practice, however, it is a political illusion to believe that this will happen. But what is not an illusion is the danger that the search for stability will lead to stagnation.

This article was translated from German

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