We will no longer leave politics to the older generation. The world has changed around us. We want to take our country into the future — because it’s our future. — Ria Schröder, lawmaker for the Free Democrats from Hamburg
We will no longer leave politics to the older generation. The world has changed around us. We want to take our country into the future — because it’s our future. — Ria Schröder, lawmaker for the Free Democrats from Hamburg

We have a generational rift, a very stark polarization that didn’t exist before: It’s the under-30s vs. the over-50s. Young people want change and these two parties got the change vote. — Klaus Hurrelmann, a sociologist who studies young people at the Hertie School in Berlin
We have a generational rift, a very stark polarization that didn’t exist before: It’s the under-30s vs. the over-50s. Young people want change and these two parties got the change vote. — Klaus Hurrelmann, a sociologist who studies young people at the Hertie School in Berlin

Skateboards, Climate Change and Freedom: Germany’s Next-Generation Parliament
Emilia Fester is 23 and has yet to finish college. Max Lucks is 24 and calls himself a militant cyclist. Ria Schröder is 29 and has the rainbow flag on her Twitter profile. Muhanad Al-Halak is 31 and came to Germany from Iraq when he was 11.

And all of them are now in the German Parliament.

The German election result was in many ways a muddle. The winners, the Social Democrats led by Olaf Scholz, barely won. No party got more than 25.7 percent. Voters spread their ballots evenly across candidates associated with the left and the right.

But one thing is clear: Germans elected their youngest ever Parliament, and the two parties at the center of this generational shift, the Greens and the Free Democrats, will not just shape the next government but are also poised to help shape the future of the country.

For now, the Greens, focused on climate change and social justice, and the Free Democrats, who campaigned on civil liberties and digital modernization, are kingmakers: Whoever becomes the next chancellor almost certainly needs both parties to form a government.

“We will no longer leave politics to the older generation,” said Ms. Schröder, a newly minted lawmaker for the Free Democrats from Hamburg. “The world has changed around us. We want to take our country into the future — because it’s our future.”

For decades, Germany has been governed by two rival establishment parties, each run by older men, and, more recently, by a somewhat older woman. Indeed, when Chancellor Angela Merkel took office in 2005 at age 51, she was the youngest ever chancellor. Germany’s electorate still skews older, with one in four voters over 60, yet it was a younger vote, some of it angry, that lifted the two upstart parties.

Fully 44 percent of voters under 25 cast their ballot for the Greens and the Free Democrats, compared with only 25 percent in that age range who voted for Ms. Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, the traditional center-left party.

The most immediate effect will be felt in Parliament. Roughly one in seven lawmakers in the departing Parliament were under 40. Now the ratio is closer to one in three. (In the U.S. Congress, one in five members are 40 or younger. The average age in Congress is 58, compared with 47.5 for Germany’s new Parliament.)

“We have a generational rift, a very stark polarization that didn’t exist before: It’s the under-30s vs. the over-50s,” said Klaus Hurrelmann, a sociologist who studies young people at the Hertie School in Berlin. “Young people want change and these two parties got the change vote.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/03/world/europe/germany-elections-young-voters-greens.html