United or divided?

What are the aims of the different generations in the Bundestag? Questions put to one of the oldest and one of the youngest MPs.

Herbert Wollmann and Merle Spellerberg: Bundestag MPs since 2021.
Herbert Wollmann and Merle Spellerberg: Bundestag MPs since 2021. photothek.net / Luise Schmiedichen

Herbert Wollmann (70, SPD) is one of the ten oldest Members of the Bundestag. Merle Spellerberg (25, Alliance 90/The Greens) is one of the ten youngest. A conversation about their political concerns.

What are the major issues for your generation?
Wollmann: The major issues are pension security, the climate crisis and the healthcare system. The climate crisis concerns all generations, and it’s the greatest challenge of the next four to eight years. People are expecting us to do something about it.

Spellerberg: The major issues for my generation are the climate crisis and justice, on a global scale as well. It’s not only about social justice, but also about combatting racism, right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism. Intergenerational justice must also play a role. The fact that the Earth is in its present condition is due to earlier generations.

 

 

What chances are there that something can be achieved in this legislative period?
Wollmann: There’s a good chance for positive developments in pensions policy. As far as the climate crisis is concerned, it’s not too difficult to find solutions at a federal level, but it’s more complicated at the communal level with resistance against the power lines designed to transmit energy from north to south.

Spellerberg: I can see some great opportunities to achieve something, for instance through feminist foreign policy. We shouldn’t view the economy and climate as opposites. And we need to address these topics at an international level as well. 

How do you view the major issues of the other generation, and how can you cooperate?
Wollmann: I don’t see any typical generation conflicts. The Fridays for Future movement has clearly spotlighted the urgency of the climate crisis. But what the young people are demanding cannot be realized overnight in a democracy.

Spellerberg: We have the chance to build on the foundations that previous generations have fought for. The struggle for climate protection didn’t start with Fridays for Future. The major lines of conflict and division don’t run between different generations.

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