Germany: Federal Minister makes a proposal how to give families with children a voice in politics

schwesigOne would not have expected such a reasonable proposal to come from this side. But we should give praise where it is due. Manuela Schwesig, a social-democrat politician currently serving as Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth in the German Federal Government may usually be more concerned with promoting the idea of gender quotas on company boards, same-sex “marriage”, or homosexual adoptions, thus giving raise to serious doubts regarding her aptness for the job she is occupying. But today, in an interview with the local newspaper “Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung”, she made a proposal that deserves full and unrestricted support: a reform of electoral laws that would give families with children a greater say in politics.

Such a reform is long overdue not only in Germany, but in all European countries. Societies are aging, and the median age of the electorate keeps increasing. That means that in the otherwise democratic system the systemic bias in favour of the elderly will further increase, so that it is more and more difficult for families with children to make their voices heard. Under the current system, one childless pensioner has one vote, but a family of six (i.e., the parents and four minor children have only two. Thus, whose concerns and interests will politicians take greater care of?

The solution to correct this imbalance would be to give children a vote, to be exercised by its parents. In practice that would mean that for each minor child each parent would get an additional half-vote.

Given the current demographic developments in Europe, this would still not suffice to change the fact that in future elections up to 40% the votes could be cast by people aged fifty or more, making the older generation the decisive constituency. But at least it would mean that at last there is equal representation for all citizens.

Throughout the history of democracy, the right to vote was granted to, or withheld from, certain groups in a somewhat arbitrary manner. There were times where only aristocrats or feudal lords could vote. Then it was only those paying a certain amount of income tax. Later it was only men, but not women. In the United States, although the 15th Amendment of the US Constitution was adopted in 1870, it was only through the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that all discriminatory practices that prevented black people from exercising their right to vote were effectively outlawed.

There is absolutely no reason why children should not be given equal representation in politics. If it is considered that they still lack the necessary insight to make good use of their rights, then the logical answer is to let them be represented by their legal representatives, i.e. their parents. This is what Mrs. Schwesig is proposing, and the proposal deserves full support.