Young Germans tired of status quo put faith in Greens, liberals

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By Reuters
Young Germans tired of status quo put faith in Greens, liberals
Young Germans tired of status quo put faith in Greens, liberals   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p>By Joseph Nasr</p> <p><span class="caps">BERLIN</span> – Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats (<span class="caps">FDP</span>) and Greens could not be further apart on issues like taxation, climate change and fiscal policy, but Sunday’s election revealed one thing they do have in common: popularity among young voters.</p> <p>An analysis of exit polls by Infratest dimap for broadcaster <span class="caps">ARD</span> showed that the Greens and <span class="caps">FDP</span> had won 23% each among first-time voters aged 18 to 22, compared with 15% and 10% for the Social Democrats (<span class="caps">SPD</span>) and conservatives respectively.</p> <p>The results https://tmsnrt.rs/3B0xq8d reflect frustrations with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservatives and their <span class="caps">SPD</span> coalition partners for slow progress on upgrading digital infrastructure and cutting emissions, and for closing schools while keeping factories open during the pandemic, researchers say.</p> <p>“Young people have found more answers to issues they care about most, like climate change, with the Greens and <span class="caps">FDP</span>,” said Laura Schieritz, deputy leader of the <span class="caps">FDP</span>’s youth wing. “They have said loud and clear that they want real change.”</p> <p>While only about 14% of Germany’s ageing population are voters under the age of 30, compared with close to 58% that are 50 or older, gains among them helped make the Greens and the <span class="caps">FDP</span> kingmakers in this year’s election.</p> <p>They won 14.8% and 11.5% of overall votes, up from 8.9% and 10.7% respectively in 2017. That puts them behind the <span class="caps">SPD</span> and the conservatives. Either one of the bigger parties will need to team up with both the <span class="caps">FPD</span> and Greens to secure a parliamentary majority for a coalition government https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/blending-chalk-cheese-assembling-government-germany-2021-09-28.</p> <p>The Greens and the <span class="caps">FDP</span> are expected to start talks with each other on Wednesday to find areas of agreement before negotiating with the <span class="caps">SPD</span> or the conservatives.</p> <p>Both the Greens and the <span class="caps">FDP</span> have a relatively young leadership that appeals to young voters disillusioned with a German political landscape long dominated by “white old men”, said Simon Schnetzer, an independent researcher of young Germans’ attitudes.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">FDP</span> is led by Christian Lindner, a slick 42-year-old former business consultant and internet investor who wants to lower taxes on businesses and cut red tape to encourage entrepreneurship among young Germans.</p> <p>The Greens are led by 40-year-old Annalena Baerbock, whose party is popular with young and highly educated female voters eager to make Europe’s biggest economy carbon neutral.</p> <p><span class="caps">LACK</span> OF <span class="caps">TRUST</span></p> <p>Many young voters saw the FDP as a defender of their liberties and freedoms during the pandemic, Schnetzer said, when the government closed schools and universities, restaurants and fitness studios while keeping factories open to safeguard the economy.</p> <p>School closures amounted to around 30 weeks since March last year compared to just 11 in France, U.N. data shows. The <span class="caps">FDP</span> was against blanket closures and wanted to give schools more power to decide if and when to close.</p> <p>Young voters “believe their well-being and interests were low on the government’s priorities list during the crisis”, Schnetzer said.</p> <p>They also backed the Greens to punish the coalition for what they see as foot-dragging on climate change, a hot topic for youths in Germany and elsewhere who have taken their demands for action to cut carbon emissions to the streets with the Fridays for Future protests.</p> <p>The Greens want to raise taxes on the rich and take on new debt to finance investments in clean energy. The <span class="caps">FDP</span> want to cut taxes for companies to encourage private sector investments and aim to fight climate change by expanding emission trading schemes.</p> <p>Plans by the <span class="caps">FDP</span> to reform Germany’s pension system to ease the burden on young people as more baby boomers retire and birth rates remain low have also appealed to young voters, said Schieritz.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">SPD</span>, led by 63-year-old Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, won the election by securing 25.7% of votes, narrowly beating the <span class="caps">CDU</span>/CSU conservative block led by Armin Laschet, 60, which posted its worst result after 16 years of Merkel. </p> <p>“The bigger story is that young German voters don’t trust the big-tent parties to represent their interests and to secure their future,” Schnetzer said. “They see them as parties that take more care of the interests of older voters.” </p> <p/> </div>