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Shift to the right, AI, climate protection: What concerns first-time voters from Fulda before the European elections | hessenschau.de

16 and 17 year olds have recently been allowed to vote in European elections. Many young voters are going to the polls for the first time. High school students from a European school in Fulda describe which questions are important to them and what worries them.

From
Jörn Perske

Audio contribution

Audio

03:31 mins

Panel discussion before the European elections: Former EU politicians speak to young voters


Panel discussion before the European elections

End of audio contribution

For many young adults, June 9th will be their first European elections. Another novelty: 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to vote for the first time. This affects 1.7 million young people in this age group nationwide and more than 100,000 in Hesse.

In order to prepare the new U18 voters and those slightly older, the Freiherr vom Stein School recently organized a panel discussion in Fulda. She is one of 34 European schools in Hesse. Around 370 students from Fulda’s largest high school came into conversation with political professionals and experts.

How EU laws affect lives

The former MEPs were guests Barbara hamlet (SPD) and Thomas Man (CDU) from Hesse and the Kassel political scientist Carla Lucks. They presented the influences of European policy and explained in which areas of life EU policy has an impact on the lives of young people.

Further information

European elections 2024 on hessenschau.de

Who exactly will be elected on June 9th, what is the European Parliament responsible for and how did the previous election turn out? You can find answers to these and other questions in our FAQ. More about the Postal voting they find out here.

Stay tuned to our website for the latest news from Hesse on the European elections dossier Up to date. With the Wahl-O-Mat You can also compare the positions of the parties.

End of further information

Example: On vacation you too can enjoy it thanks to the Schengen Agreement the great (travel) freedom. And thanks to that omission of Extra fees Cell phone use no longer costs huge amounts of money – a luxury that is now taken for granted.

Lioba Diel appreciates: “In France, making phone calls is not more expensive for me than usual.” In Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, she gets a huge cell phone bill.

Which topics concern you?

But what issues do young voters actually care about? What scares them? Where do they want to be heard more? The panel discussion and further discussions with the students and teachers provided insights.

The three students Nele Vogel (17), Ceren Cagan (19) and Lioba Diel (18), who led the panel discussion European School moderated, as well as class colleague Jonah Pavic (19) from the 12th grade told the hr what concerns them. You are taking part in an EU election for the first time.

The political shift to the right

In view of political developments, Lioba Diel is very worried about a shift to the right in Germany and Europe. “You can already see here that more voters are orienting themselves to the right. I don’t hope that this shift to the right spreads to Europe. That could be dangerous.” Diel is a member of the Student Union, a working group of the Junge Union, the youth organization of the CDU/CSU.


Panel discussion European election Stein School Fulda

Ceren Cagan is worried that Giorgia Meloni, an ultra-right critic of Europe, has become head of government in Italy. “Right-wing extremists are also gaining strength in Germany. We have to do something about it,” said the member of Jusos, the SPD youth organization.

Right-wing slogans on social media

School spokeswoman Nele Vogel also observes with unease that the right-wing AfD on social media with its content from young voters a lot Attention receives. “That’s a problem. On Tiktok, for example, the AfD has an incredible presence – in contrast to many other parties.”

The AfD, of which she is “not a fan at all,” understood how to reach young people. “I see this as absolutely critical and the other parties are under pressure to act.”

Dealing with artificial intelligence

Jonah Pavic wonders how politics should deal with artificial intelligence (AI). “Should this be regulated at European level or not?” And what power does the EU actually have?

“Should the EU be able to ban a social network like Tiktok or show barriers at the national level? I believe there is no need for a ban, but restrictions – especially against extremist content.”


Panel discussion European election Stein School Fulda

Climate policy as a long-running issue

The mega topic is climate policy. Nele Vogel said: “The climate has an impact on our everyday lives – in every respect.” Jonah Pavic says: “One hopes that there will finally be progress. But recently nothing has really happened.”

The “Fridays for Future” movement hasn’t exactly achieved a breakthrough. “You didn’t feel like you could really exert any influence.” That is frustrating.

Dealing with nuclear energy

When it came to the topic of nuclear energy, the student body was divided in the discussion. One student said that nuclear power should remain available for energy supply.

Nele Vogel, on the other hand, has concerns about the long-term consequences of nuclear waste and reactor safety. She misses a coordinated energy policy in Europe. “This is absolutely frustrating because nuclear reactors are online in numerous neighboring German countries.”


Panel discussion European election Stein School Fulda

Change in transport policy

Transport policy goes hand in hand with climate policy. Lioba Diel would like to see an expansion and modernization of the rail network in Europe. In addition, public transport should be strengthened.

Individual car traffic should not continue to grow and more people should use public transport.

War creates fears for the future

In view of crises and wars like those currently taking place in Ukraine, young voters, like the participants in the panel discussion, also feel fears about the future. It is also about the question: How does Europe position itself in this regard?

“I think securing peace will always be a big issue for us. Of course, that also stirs up fears,” said school spokeswoman Nele Vogel.

Social policy is important

The wide-ranging social policy also concerns young voters and discussion participants. They want diversity to be valued and practiced in society.

The fight against poverty must be tackled more consistently and there must be more openness and humanity in migration policy, as Ceren Cagan said.


Panel discussion European election Stein School Fulda

Voting from 16 is widely supported

The right to vote for 16 and 17 year olds is met with great approval by teachers and students. Lioba Diel said: “I think that many people of that age appreciate that. It’s a great luxury. We are pioneers in Germany. 16-year-olds are not allowed to be there everywhere in Europe.” She hopes that the interests of the younger generation will be taken more into account as a result of the election results.

Thomas Manderscheid, head of the social sciences department at the Fulda high school, explained: “I am a big advocate of the voting age starting at 16. Many issues relevant to the future are influenced by European politics for this generation. Then they should also be allowed to have a say.”


Panel discussion European election Stein School Fulda

Are young voters mature enough?

For Manderscheid, there is no question that young people are also ready for the election: “The political maturity of 16 to 20 year olds does not fundamentally differ from that of older people. Political maturity is always linked to political interest. Age says nothing.”

He has not observed any lack of interest among young people in politics: in his opinion, they are quickly mobilized when it comes to issues such as climate change and the shift to the right and demonstrate for them.

“I don’t see dissatisfaction with politics, but rather dissatisfaction with parties. Many people don’t feel sufficiently represented and heard by them. And the decisions made during the corona pandemic have destroyed a lot of trust.” Politicians now need to rebuild this.

Further information

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