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“I give them confidence and encouragement”

Eliza Diekmann is a mayor and a mentor with JoinPolitics. The initiative supports young people who want to get involved in politics. 

Author_Vanessa_SchmidtVanessa Schmidt, 17.01.2024
Eliza Diekmann offers insights into her work as mayor.
Eliza Diekmann offers insights into her work as mayor. © Stefan Finger

Eliza Diekmann has been a mentor with the JoinPolitics initiative since it was founded, advising young adults who want to get involved in local politics. Not affiliated to any political party, Diekman is the mayor of Coesfeld, a town with a population of 37,000 in the Münsterland region - so the 37-year-old former journalist has a wealth of experience. JoinPolitics is a non-partisan initiative that promotes political talent. It is supported by various foundations and the Federal Agency for Civic Education.

Ms Diekmann, why are you a JoinPolitics mentor?}
I was really enthusiastic right from the start because during my election campaign I came to realise from personal experience just how difficult it is to bring a fresh perspective to local politics. The initiative helps motivate more people to have the courage to go into politics. Through my involvement as a mentor, I’ve seen how enriching it is to not only have traditional candidates who’ve already gained political experience but also people from other areas of life with different perceptions. This is exactly what JoinPolitics wants to achieve, thereby reinventing politics and establishing diverse teams. 

What advice do you give as a mentor?
My focus is on encouraging people and providing them with insights: how much time will the position involve? How do I get myself organised? How do I reconcile work and family? I encourage participants, telling them that they can familiarise themselves with the relevant structures even without any previous experience of working in administration. I was unsure myself and I notice the same thing in others. I believe it’s best to take advice from someone who has personal experience of something. 

How does JoinPolitics help young women in particular to gain a foothold in politics?}
Only one of my mentees has been a man so far: otherwise it’s always young women who feel they could never become a “mayoress”. I give them confidence and encouragement. I motivate people to believe that it’s worthwhile: after all, you can make a lot of decisions and changes if you hold a position of authority. 

In what areas does politics have to open up to the next generation?
Parties should develop their youth liaison work to ensure they really reach young people. And once they have reached them, they must give them the space to engage, too. Young people shouldn’t have to be background observers all the time. They must be given a stage – and fully trusted. This is where JoinPolitics helps give the parties a wake-up call.