(c) Stadtjugendring Augsburg

This week our part­ner Chris­tine Hueb­n­er got to dis­cuss ques­tions on young people’s polit­i­cal engage­ment and the results of our research on youth vot­ing with around 100 inter­est­ed young peo­ple in Augs­burg, Germany:

  • Are young peo­ple in Ger­many inter­est­ed in pol­i­tics, but not will­ing to engage in it?
  • Why do few­er young peo­ple choose to engage in polit­i­cal par­ties despite con­tin­ued polit­i­cal interest?
  • Do young peo­ple pre­fer oth­er, new forms of polit­i­cal participation?
  • How should politi­cians and polit­i­cal par­ties react to young people’s chang­ing modes of engagement?

In a relaxed pub atmos­phere, Chris­tine and pan­el­lists Vin­cent-Immanuel Herr and Mar­tin Speer were joined by numer­ous young peo­ple aged 13 to 30 years, who took a seat on stage to share their opin­ions and expe­ri­ences with pol­i­tics and polit­i­cal organ­i­sa­tions. Local politi­cians also joined the fish­bowl-style dis­cus­sion. Host­ed by the local youth coun­cil, Stadtju­gen­dring Augs­burg, and the Bavar­i­an branch of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foun­da­tion the event marked the kick-off to ded­i­cat­ed youth work ahead of the upcom­ing munic­i­pal elections.

The very live­ly dis­cus­sion cen­tred on ques­tions around new forms of polit­i­cal engage­ment and their impact, the way politi­cians and polit­i­cal par­ties react to chang­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion pat­terns of today’s young peo­ple and how polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion can be approached in schools. The most hot­ly debat­ed issue of the night was that of the low­er­ing of the vot­ing age to include 16- and 17-year olds in the fran­chise. Some dis­cus­sants even argued in favour of grant­i­ng the right to vote to all chil­dren and young peo­ple, regard­less of age. In a final vote, mem­bers of the audi­ence were asked to sig­nal their lev­els of agree­ment with pro­pos­als on the low­er­ing of the vot­ing by hold­ing up green and red cards. After two hours of heat­ed dis­cus­sion, the audi­ence vote returned a mixed pic­ture on the ques­tion of the age of enfranchisement.

The local organ­is­ers said they had not seen the venue this crowd­ed when the top­ic of an event includ­ed the word ‘pol­i­tics’.