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Minister: 'Give children the vote'
Photo: DPA

Minister: 'Give children the vote'

Published: 04 Jan 2013 07:16 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Jan 2013 07:16 GMT+01:00

Dirk Niebel, Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), "We must give children a voice - in elections as well."

The current age limit on voting in Germany is 18 which, he said, was "completely inappropriate" although he was not specific about when he wanted children to be given suffrage.

On a practical level, the Free Democrat (FDP) politician said that parents could take responsibility for overseeing their child's vote or even using on their behalf. This would give families a louder political voice and force politicians to take children and families more into consideration.

He argued that denying the vote to Germany's 17 million over-65s would be absurd, yet excluding children, a sixth of the country's population, was accepted without question.

Niebel's idea provoked constitutional objections from his colleagues.

Ingrid Fischbach from the Christian Democratic Union, the governing coalition partner alongisde the FDP told the WAZ that “no one can argue against the idea's charm” but that in reality “voting is a private matter and one that constitutionally cannot be exercised by a third party.”

She added that it would be hard to check whether parents were actually ticking the box their child had chosen.

Thomas Krüger, president of Germany's children's union, said that although he would be in favour of dropping the voting age to 16, and eventually 14, he disagreed with allowing parents a proxy vote for their child.

But support came from Paula Honkanen-Schoberth of Germany's national child protection association who said children should have voting rights as soon as they were born.

She said that children were often under-estimated and studies showed that they demonstrated interest in political issues from as early as the third grade.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:45 January 4, 2013 by Tonne
Is it April already?
11:19 January 4, 2013 by MattyB
What a silly idea. If anything, the right to vote in national elections should be raised to 30.
11:27 January 4, 2013 by LancashireLad
What's absurd is there haven't been calls for his resignation. This idea is beyond absurd. 18 is a sensible enough cut off for this. Before that you've barely had time to accumulate enough life experience to make reasoned judgements. And who is the woman advocating voting rights from birth? Raving lunatic. So how do you register a vote from a baby born a month before the election? It doesn't even know that the things waving about in front of its face are its hands, let alone is it capable of using them to hold a pen .....
12:25 January 4, 2013 by yllusion
Heh.. we already have to consider votes of uneducated people over 18 years old and this guy proposes that more people without proper education, experience and understand of social, economical and political issues become detrimental to the future of a country? Can't be serious..
12:27 January 4, 2013 by frankiep
This is possibly the stupidest idea I have ever heard. Recent studies have shown that the part of the human brain responsible for critical reasoning and restricting risky behavior is not fully developed until the age of 25. I can accept 18 being the voting age since 18 year olds can enter the military and should therefore have a say in what their government is doing. But to allow people even younger than that to vote, when they have absolutely no clue as to how the real world works is just plain insanity.

I find it also incredibly insulting that this minister is comparing teenagers to people over 65 as a justification for this. He is essentially saying that a 15 year old has just as much understanding of real world issues as a 65 year old. Someone remove this clown from office quickly.
13:09 January 4, 2013 by The-ex-pat
"Parents could take responsibility for overseeing their child's vote or even using on their behalf. "

Democracy at work.............You will vote the way I tell you my Kleiner!!!!
13:14 January 4, 2013 by ichbines
While you are at it, would someone please give voting rights to ADULTS who have resided here, say over 5 years. You can reside here your ENTIRE adult life and never be given the right to vote.

Or...hmmm, perhaps we do not want the opinions of people, ahem... just LIVING here?!
13:26 January 4, 2013 by grazhdanin
After puberty people start to physically and mentally degenerate again. Thus, the right to vote should be given rather to under 18-year olds than to over 18-year olds only.
13:44 January 4, 2013 by Big L
Wow I am relieved to see that not only my country has mentally deranged idiots in politics....
14:28 January 4, 2013 by zeddriver
Wonder what this idiots opinion is on the minimum age for Drinking, Smoking, Driving, Sex. I think we all know what he would say. The kids don't have enough sense nor skill to make an informed decision about Drinking, Smoking, Driving, Sex.

This guy is the poster child for

'Stupid is as stupid does".
15:33 January 4, 2013 by michael4096
Why is it that at 17.99 years you are a child but at 18.00 an adult? Real life isn't like that. As some have said there are many much older that cannot be trusted and, presumably, some younger that can. There are already different ages for sex, dying for your country, drinking etc. surely a more graduated approach to voting is possible.

How about a test like a driving theoretical before anyone can vote?
15:56 January 4, 2013 by ErnestPayne
"Children" already have the vote. Look worldwide at some of the idiots holding elected office. They have to have been elected by "children".
18:13 January 4, 2013 by Englishted
Oh my god next they will want to give it to women .
06:41 January 13, 2013 by Sastry.M
Age of exercising franchise is a human consideration depending upon deciding mental discriminative maturity. But would the present un natural beauty fashioned human society allow children to grow naturally at least from puberty to 18y along with adolescent terminal hairy matrixed formatting on pubis and under axillae, which nature has designed for biological growth of human physique?

Hatred of natural body is instilled at the age of beginning physical and mental maturity and advancing to allow voting at a lower age may not mitigate human ignorance and inculcate discriminative wisdom.
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