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Having a say for the first time

For around three million young Germans the Bundestag elections are a premiere – they will be voting for the first time. Three talk about their motives.

© dpa

“Stand up for your convictions”
Caya Unger, 19, student

For me it’s something special to be able to vote in the Bundestag elections. I grew up in a democracy, but I know that can’t be taken for granted. When someone refuses to use his right to vote, it makes me angry. I’m happy then to get into a discussion about it.

I already know who is getting my first vote. Still, I’m soon going to go to a panel discussion with candidates from my constituency; maybe what I hear will reinforce my decision. For me it’s important that MPs have got around in life a bit and got to know various perspectives. They should also stand up for their convictions. With some, I unfortunately have the impression that they’re afraid of rubbing people the wrong way and losing voters.

I’m still thinking about which party to give my second vote to. As a medical student, the issue of education is important to me – and everything that has to do with health. Also environmental issues. In my opinion, for example, phasing out nuclear power was the right thing to do.

I’m aware of the responsibility you have as a voter.
Julian Neugebauer

“Take up the issues of the future”
Julian Neugebauer, 19, student

Many of my friends and acquaintances like to talk about politics; at the university we often discuss current affairs. The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has only reinforced this. Although most young people are interested in politics, there’s a certain feeling of frustration.

Julian Neugebauer
Julian Neugebauer © Privat

In my opinion, that’s because the parties overlap too much and only rarely and superficially deal with the real issues of the future. The philosopher Richard David Precht recently coined the term “retropie” to describe this: many politicians seem to want to return to the past. The motorway toll isn’t really an election-deciding issue! Much more urgent are answers to questions about how we can cope with the changes in the work-world and social state brought about by digitalization. It’s hard to feel confident about parties that don’t really take up these issues. That’s why I still don’t know who I’ll vote for.

Of course, I’ll still vote. As a politically interested person, I’m aware of the responsibility you have as a voter. Before, when I was 16 or 17, it was easy to criticize all the parties. Now I have to make compromises and commit myself. I admit it will probably be a gut feeling that decides my vote on election day.

“Invest more in the schools”
Philip Ov, 18, high-school student

“I still don’t know who I’ll vote for. I’m informing myself, mainly on the internet, looking at the websites of the parties. On the social media you seldom meet with interesting entries about the parties; these networks are probably still new to many politicians.

Philip Ov
Philip Ov © Privat

For me, education is the top issue. Many schools aren’t well-equipped. My school also often lacks material for subjects like chemistry and physics, so that practice sometimes gets the short end of the stick. Still, I’m thinking about studying some science after graduation.

That I can have my say in September is important for me. Having the right to vote means having a responsibility. My vote too can change something, at least a little bit.