‘Our government has forgotten the youth’: German youth jumped into the Greens and the FDP

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The German election makers – the liberal democrats and the environmentalist Greens – rarely shared their time in politics. But now there are some similarities between them: people are voting for them.

Young Germans came to the FDP and Greens last Sunday, with 44 percent of those under 25 voting in their favor. This trend reflects the younger generation’s demands for change, ignoring both Angela Merkel’s Center-Right Christian Democrats (CDU), who have suffered their worst electoral results in history, and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), who came out. A narrow win.

These two big tent parties dominated Germany’s post-war era, but the younger generation now feels that the SPD and CDU lack a clear vision to lead their country through the waters ahead – from the end of the Merkel era at home, to global threats such as climate change.

“These parties have no worldview. Justin Guche, an 18-year-old Young Liberals member who voted for the FDP, said they actually had nothing. “Green has ecology. FDP has liberalism. What do CDUs and SPDs have?”

Young voters have rarely been influenced by German political strategy in recent years, analysts say: only 14.4 percent of voters under the age of 30, compared to 57.8 percent of those over the age of 50.

But this time, their vote could help form the next government: the Greens and the FDP will now decide whether to form an alliance with the SPD or the CDU.

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The election data shows a generational split, with the SPD and CDU’s vote share steadily increasing with voter age. For Greens and FDP, the trend is reversed.

“Where the voters go in the next 20 years will depend on them [two] The parties are doing it now, ”said Renas Sahin, 20, a first-time voter and member of Green Youth.

Simon Schneitzer, a political analyst who studied youth voting, said young Germans had experienced years of “awakening” that began in 2015 with the arrival of refugees and subsequent public reactions. Then came the massive protests against climate change. Last year, the coronavirus epidemic lagged behind Germany in terms of digitizing public services and speeding up its plastering Internet.

“Before these three crises. . . It was a ‘fine fine’ generation, a rich future seemed secure. It doesn’t feel like it anymore, “Schneitzer said.” Their big problem now is to live for the future. “

Paulina Brunzer, a young climate activist in the Future Protest Movement on Friday, recalled her surprise at the government’s quick response to the epidemic, from emergency laws to massive spending programs.

“Our politicians said: this is a crisis. It’s going to be tough. But we can go through it together, ”he said. “We now see with Covid-1 with politicians when they think they have a crisis এবং and how little they’ve done in the climate.”

The epidemic also triggered a move away from the CDU, which won 25 percent of voters under the age of 30 in 2017, up from 11 percent last Sunday. Young FDP voters told the FT that they followed the lockdown to protect the older generation, yet felt their demands – such as the establishment of effective online education platforms – were ignored.

“I remember the FDP being ridiculed for digitizing the 2011 election,” said 18-year-old Norin Thiel, who not only voted for the first time this year but also ran as an FDP candidate in Berlin. “Our government has forgotten the youth.”

Renas Sahin, a first-time voter and member of Green Youth, is wary of allying with his party, the SPD and the FDP-Gordon Welters / FT.

While the appeal of green politics to young voters fighting for the planet’s future was clear, Schneitzer was surprised that liberals took the same share of first-time voters as the Greens, each with 23 percent.

He attributed the success of the FDP to the appeal of its leader, Christian Lindner, especially among the youth. The 422-year-old politician drove a Porsche and is known for his funny reactions. Lindner himself told the Financial Times that young voters chose his party “because the FDP is the freedom and stimulus of life, the joy of technology and innovation as a promise of the future.”

Young FDP voters believe they share a common ground with the Greens: both have similar views on human rights and the legalization of cannabis, and both have lowered the voting age. Want to.

First-time voter and FDP candidate Norin Thiel: ‘If you don’t come up with a policy to attract young people, you can’t hate them for not voting for you’ ©GordonWelters / FT

“I have heard some conservatives say [lowering the voting age] Only the greens will benefit, ”Thiel said. “Well, if you’re not coming up with a policy to attract young people, you can’t hate them for not voting for you.”

Many young FDP voters interviewed by the FT supported a “traffic light” alliance between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, believing it would probably meet their demands.

But left-risk young Greens beware. “If allying with the SPD and the FDP means not changing radically. . . The Greens need to think about what they are doing to really move forward, ”Sahin said.

Schnetzer suspects that the two parties could fight to meet the expectations of young voters. “Until now, it was easy to say they were agents of change,” he said. The coming days, amid pressure from more powerful parties and the expectations of older voters, will “show how strong their desire to change really is.”

Yet neglecting young voters can be risky, Guche warns. He has seen people from a poor eastern mining region and in recent years turn to the right-wing alternative for Germany. He is afraid of the pull of populism.

Young climate activists, for their part, warn that some in their positions may adopt radical tactics if the next government does not take more drastic measures to tackle climate change.

Sahin said, “I do not expect any kind of rebellion. But he expressed concern that without change, faith in democratic institutions could fade. “We can’t let that happen,” he said. “We will face a generation that has lost its sense of hope.”

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