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Debate : 16-or 18-years - the right of choice of the youth

Berlin - Every Friday, students in Germany and Europe demonstrate for climate protection. Federal Minister of justice Katarina Barley (SPD) finds that political

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Debate : 16-or 18-years - the right of choice of the youth

Berlin - Every Friday, students in Germany and Europe demonstrate for climate protection. Federal Minister of justice Katarina Barley (SPD) finds that political commitment "great," and calls for the right to vote from the age of 16. What the election will bear right, what needs to be changed, where to Select from 16 years is possible and what it means for young people – an Overview.

basic law

"choice is entitled, who is 18 years of age. Age of; selectable is, who has reached the age of majority“, the basic law in article 38. If you want to reduce the age, you must change the Constitution. A two-thirds majority in the Bundestag is necessary. Opponents of such an Amendment argue with the political coming of age. "If elections are not a game, if your result is not left to chance, so, for example, does not roll, but, on a public with rational arguments leading to the discourse between voters and to be elected can be traced back, then the subjective choice of law on both sides of the ability, in such a communication process with a few understanding to participate," writes the legal scholar and former CDU politician Hans Hugo Klein in the leading of the basic law comment Maunz/Dürig. Such a level of mind maturity could not be provided in the over 18-Year - olds, 16-or 17-Year-old.

proponents of a reduction can, however, also refer to the basic law. "All state authority emanates from the people", - stated in article 20, and you will "exercised by the people through elections and other votes". Of a minimum age, nothing is there. Around 13.5 million minors are living in Germany. You do not belong to the people? Conservative lawyers, such as Small see the "sense of maturity" nevertheless, as a democratic prerequisite. "The dialogue process between the voters and to be elected is as the between Represented and representatives the result of a personal process". A reduction is excluded, therefore, for him, it is contrary to article 79 paragraph 3 of the basic law, which explains the essential principles of democracy and cannot be changed.

right to vote from birth

How the constitutional court assesses that such a question is open. Because it matters here, but rather on the views of democracy the theoretical concepts, should be granted the legislator a game room. For each is incomprehensible that sense maturity goes hand in hand with age. That young people participate in the political discourse, with social networks visible, and probably by you has been promoted.

other possibilities are conceivable. The German family Association had made two years ago, a foray: "Only the one who selects, counts," proclaimed the organization. For minors, there will be a "right to vote from birth", the exercise of the parent representative, so long, until the mind want to choose year. To do this, you would have to leave in the voters ' register, then the delegate is removed. The age of majority would be the upper limit. Who has the necessary "sense of maturity" to report personally to registration, could vote accordingly. Opponents argue with the Constitution. The right to vote was in person, you can and should not exercise in a representative capacity.

The rights of the 16-Year-old

16-Year-old, you have many rights. You are allowed to make wills, may agree to organ donation, driving licenses, purchase and to vote in local elections. Also, the criminal law, it no longer protects as Younger, such as in the case of abuse offences. Minors are free to form parties. "The parties shall participate in the formation of political will of the people. Their creation is free“, - is spoken in article 21 of the basic law. The party is to be registered, but as an incorporated Association, it would be different. Minors who are at least seven, but not yet 18 years old, can establish an Association only with the consent of their legal representatives, i.e. the parents.


If it is after the youth researcher Klaus Hurrelmann was expected to choose twelve-year-old. He refers to the current student demos against climate change. "As current events show, is already at the Ten - and twelve-year-old with a political interest," he said. In the opinion of the social scientist who teaches at Berlin's Hertie School of Governance, able to assess young people of this age, "what a topic and what matters in an election".

Therefore, the age of majority plays no role for the determination of this civil right. "What is crucial is the ability to judge, assess the ability to what is a theme, and in the case of a choice," said Hurrelmann. "I am of the opinion that it could produce a social consensus, to 14 years to go down." From this age on, the basic law, to leave the religious majority – a fact that is for the discussion of the choice of age is of great importance.

the results of The election would not be affected very much because the young people formed a demographically small groups. "But the parties of the need to include the issues of young people, that would be the Ultimate." Around 1.5 million young people would be entitled to a reduction in the voting age by two years, in addition to the election, experts say. The imbalance between Older and Younger would be a little corrected. So 21.3 million eligible to vote, were in the year 2015 after all, in the age of more than 60 years, only 9.8 million of choice to beneficiaries who were 30 years old or younger.

Four state elections 16

The right to vote for 16 years already, at the state and local level. In Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, 16-Year-old may already have the diet. The passive right to vote to exercise, namely, self-elected, you may not. In the case of municipal elections the voting age in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt has been reduced to 16 years. The Federal administrative court has explained this 2018 for compatible with the basic law.

experiences from the countries

experiences from Brandenburg show that 16 - and 17-Year-old to take to exercise your right to vote. At the state election in 2014, the turnout rate in this age group, at 41.5 percent – and thus significantly higher than in older age groups. In the case of the 18 - to 20-Year olds, 34 per cent, in the 21 - to 24-Year-olds, only 26.2 percent. Overall, the turnout was 48.5 percent. In Schleswig-Holstein scientists of the Mainz center for empirical research on democracy 3 800 young people aged 15 to 18 years of age have asked. Because in may of 2017, you were allowed to choose the Landtag in Kiel. In the General election four months later, the voting remained all under the age of 18 years, then denied.

The survey showed that young voters would like to have participated well in the General election. The researchers found that the youngest eligible voters are particularly interested in strongly for policy and also inform. The existing interest would be strengthened by the possibility to choose. The social background plays a role: students from homes that are interested in politics, voted more frequently than adolescents with lower levels of education. This pattern could be consolidated. The Mainz researchers also warn: The non-uniform voting age in Federal and some countries could be the Motivation that undermine, in the process of interested voters.


in Spite of all of the experiences and arguments: The probability that the SPD with its proposal in this legislature, against the opposition of the Union, is extremely low. In 2018 the signed coalition agreement, the election is not right with 16.

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parliaments choose from birth vote with their feet

Jost Müller-Neuhof

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