It’s often easy with young people in politics: if they get involved, they’re quickly seen as impatient and radical; if they stay too quiet, people say they’re disenchanted with politics and disinterested. There is often a lack of space for political dialogue and participation.
There was finally such a room on Friday – at the Tincon Youth Conference. Young people could ask their questions directly to the Minister for Family Affairs, Lisa Paus (Greens). The question and answer session was moderated by 18-year-old Luise Lotte Kreutel. Tincon, re:publica’s offer for young people, is a conference for and by young people.
The first questions hit the mark straight away: “Ms. Paus, how regularly are you in direct contact with young people?” And: “How do you keep track of things in a ministry that, in addition to youth, is also responsible for families, senior citizens and women?”
The minister referred to the work of youth organizations such as the German Federal Youth Council, but at the same time conceded that many young people were not reached by the offers. “There’s really a lot to do,” she said. “We can become significantly better in the area of promoting democracy and expanding participation structures.”
But it is not easy, there is still a lack of ideas on how to reach more young people on a broad basis and also pay attention to equal opportunities. She sees the Tincon as a step in the right direction.
“Politics must go where young people really are, for example on social media,” said Leah Bartsch. She is 19 and has been involved with the political blog “Politik rethought” for a year. It is important to her to make politics easier to understand and to motivate other young people to actively ask questions and get involved. She sees the event as an opportunity to get in touch with those responsible.
How much interest there is among the young people was evident from the lively participation in the event. The room at the back of the Kreuzberg ballroom was well filled. A fabric cube with a built-in microphone was thrown through the crowd again and again. Because there were many questions: about the climate crisis, basic child security and the mental health of young people.
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Young people wanted to get involved and be taken seriously. The family minister repeatedly emphasized that she wanted to stand up for her interests. Exactly how, that was not always clear. When asked how the climate crisis was being dealt with in her ministry, which hit seniors, women and young people particularly hard, she said: “To be honest, not at all so far.”
The Green politician Paus also said that she wanted to change that. After all, she was just sworn in as the new family minister at the end of April after Anne Spiegel resigned because of the “holiday affair”. This is also discussed: “How did you actually become Minister for Family Affairs?” asked a student. She was asked because she had already gained a lot of experience and survived a few crises, Paus replied.
A young woman from the audience asked: “How does it feel to inherit the office of a failed minister?” that she wants to remain in office longer than her predecessors.
She became more specific with the plan to lower the voting age to 16 – at least for the 2024 European elections. We’re not sure whether the Union will participate,” says Paus. For the European elections, on the other hand, a simple majority in the German Bundestag is sufficient. The promise received a lot of applause from the young viewers.
Pensions were also an issue. The family minister was happy about this, because it was a topic for young people: “The seniors have their pension, you have to fight to ensure that you also get one,” she said. In this context, it is also important to anchor financial education in school lessons. A student complained that subjects such as taxes or pensions were not discussed at school.
In addition, a lack of political education and media skills was lamented. The Tincon aims to change that. Entire school classes attended the event on Friday. On Saturday, too, young people between the ages of 13 and 25 can experience a comprehensive program on the topics of politics, digital and media education free of charge.
Five different stages were set up in the Kreuzberg festival hall. There are workshops about fact checks on Tiktok, cryptocurrencies and talks about racism or the climate crisis.
If you are not participating in an event, you can play video games or try out the 3D printer and the screen printing workshop. Outside in the “beach area” visitors can meet the speakers, including internet greats like the comedian El Hotzo.
On Friday, immediately after the minister, Anjo Genow, the Berlin student spokesman, who became known through his commitment to the students during the Corona pandemic, came onto the stage: “We have to stay loud and make sure that we are heard.”