Angela Merkel’s merits are appreciated by many and all the signs are she will be re-elected on Sunday. But not everyone is on side and the youth vote seems to be eluding the German Chancellor.
It is nothing personal. Young people look to be turning away from her main rivals, too, and giving their support to new groups on the fringes. In one recent survey, only eight percent of 18-24 year old said they would support Merkel’s conservative bloc with a meagre nine percent backing the Social Democrats. Denouncing politicians spouting propaganda for their own benefit, one young woman complained: “We don’t know if they will keep their promises.” Students in Hamburg have made an effort, staging their own mini-election ahead of the big event. They are part of a new generation of German voters, some born after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Young people won’t have a huge influence this weekend as they make up a mere 10 percent of the electorate. But their voting preferences send a worrying signal to those traditionally in government. A vote for the fringe Pirate Party is not a wasted vote, argued one young man. “I am saying to the big parties which subjects they should be dealing with and that is how I can influence politics, even if my party is not represented in the German parliament.” The Pirate Party’s campaign centres on demands to reform copyright laws and reject censorship on the internet. A German social networking website said that nearly half of the 200,000 site members who took part in an election survey gave the Pirates their support.