Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Are young German voters getting the short end of the stick because the country’s political leaders fall over themselves to placate senior citizens?
Or is it simply a case of democracy pure when politicians listen attentively to what seniors demand because they are the group that votes more faithfully than any other age group?
That’s one of the hot issues at the moment in Germany ahead of the Sept. 27 election where voters 60 years old and above could decide the race between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives or Vice Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s Social Democrats. Voters 60 and over make up about 30 percent of the rapidly ageing electorate — 20 million of the 62 million voters in a country of 82 million.
And they’ve got clout. No age group goes to the polls in such strong numbers as the 60+ group — a full 85 percent of the seniors cast their ballots in the last election in 2005 and their turnout will likely be as high again later this month. No other age group comes even close and the overall turnout in 2005 was 77 percent. The lowest turnout was the 21-25 age group where 66 percent voted.
Then make the most of Germany’s generous parental benefits and job protection for parents on baby leave, and take time off to procreate. That’s at least the message coming from a leading economist in Germany, who is urging the government to do even more for young families, and echoing loudly in the German media.
It may seem counterintuitive — traditionally, birth rates are seen falling during downturns, as people fear for their jobs, worry about a fall in income and seek to reduce costs — but some politicians and researchers say using the recession to have children could be advantageous for all: individuals, companies and the future economy.