• Germany's news in English
 

Minister: 'Give children the vote'

The Local · 4 Jan 2013, 07:16

Published: 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)

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.
Today's headlines
Whiff of foul play in Cologne mayoral election
An electoral poster next to Cologne Cathedral. Photo: DPA

Whiff of foul play in Cologne mayoral election

5 hours ago

Did the Social Democratic Party (SPD) deliberately skew voting slips in Cologne's mayoral elections to hand their candidate an advantage?

Refugee crisis
Five ways you can help refugees in Germany
Woman bring clothing donations to a German Red Cross station in Heidenau, scene of anti-refugee demonstrations last weekend. Photo: DPA

Five ways you can help refugees in Germany

3 hours ago

The Local's pointers for how to get started if you're interested in donating your money, unwanted possessions, time or skills to help refugees in Germany.

FC Bayern takes refugee kids under its wing
Players will walk into the Allianz Arena hand-in-hand with young refugees on September 12th. Photo: DPA

FC Bayern takes refugee kids under its wing

2 hours ago

FC Bayern Munich said on Thursday that it would help young refugees learn German and play football and donate €1m of the proceeds from an upcoming friendly match.

Berlin hotel extends beds for basketball giants
Dirk Nowitzki (r) - too tall for a normal hotel bed. Photo: DPA

Berlin hotel extends beds for basketball giants

2 hours ago

The Berlin hotel hosting the international basketball teams playing in the 2015 European championships matches here have extended their beds to 2.50 metres in order to accomodate the giant players.

Migrant crisis
Hungary says refugees are 'German problem'
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (l) and refugees boarding a train at Budapest's Keleti station. Photos: DPA

Hungary says refugees are 'German problem'

6 hours ago

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insisted Thursday the migrant crisis was a German problem, not a European one as he defended his government's handling of thousands of refugees flooding into his country.

Banks jack up ATM fees for non-customers
Photo: DPA

Banks jack up ATM fees for non-customers

7 hours ago

Germany's big private banks are increasing fees for customers at other financial institutions to withdraw cash from their ATMs, making ordinary people pay the price for a bankers' spat.

Berlin mayor christens brand-new U-Bahn trains
Berlin Mayor Michael Müller smashes a bottle of Berliner Weisse beer against the metal skin of a new U-Bahn train to christen it. Photo: DPA

Berlin mayor christens brand-new U-Bahn trains

9 hours ago

The first of an all-new model of Berlin U-Bahn trains was christened on Wednesday evening by city mayor Michael Müller in a typically Berlin ceremony.

Migrant crisis
Biggest EU nations want refugees shared fairly
A man leads migrants in a chant in front of police lines at Budapest's Keleti railway station on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Biggest EU nations want refugees shared fairly

9 hours ago

Germany, France and Italy called for an overhaul of laws on the right of asylum and a fairer distribution of migrants throughout the European Union, Italy's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

The Local List
7 ways Germans get English totally wrong
Don't let their confidence fool you: Germans aren't always the best at English. Photo: DPA.

7 ways Germans get English totally wrong

1 day ago

As much as English-speakers might feel insecure about their Deutsch skills when faced with Germans' comparatively widespread grasp of English, Germans themselves often mess up English - in some pretty hilarious ways.

Mannschaft step forward to welcome refugees
Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger at a press conference earlier this week. Photo: DPA

Mannschaft step forward to welcome refugees

1 day ago

Germany's World Cup-winning footballers have condemned xenophobic attacks on the thousands of foreigners pouring into their country and led calls to help the refugees amidst the ongoing crisis.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Features
How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
Sport
German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Travel
Retiree finds parked car after three-week search
National
Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Business & Money
German gadget clamps down on Nutella thieves
Society
Is Germany now a nation of couch potatoes?
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,984
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd