The Federal Republic of Germany is a party democracy; political parties are the heart of German politics. But since the 1970s, the established parties have lost members — especially because young people no longer join.
Since the election of Trump, Brexit and the rise of right-wing populism, many young people have flocked to the parties and become more politically interested than they have been for a long time. The SPD alone has 15,000 new members since the beginning of the year. However, when young people enter parties, they encounter old party structures, often dating from the 1970s. It is therefore no wonder that the parties can hardly inspire potential junior members and even the newly won young party members often and quickly become “passive members” again. As a result, the parties are ageing as well as representing the interests of young people less and less. A vicious, yet not irreversible circle. A fundamental change is needed to keep the parties from running out of steam.
For FRFG it is therefore clear that the parties must again be more intergenerationally just and act accordingly. In its position paper, the FRFG makes eleven proposals to the parties:
1) All power to the members
2) An intermediate level between membership and non-membership
3) Opening of the structures
4) Simplifying structures
5) Become a Think Thank
6) Dissolve location-dependency
7) Reform party conferences
8) Enable online cooperation
9) Rotation of posts
10) Financial support for candidates
11) Allow (culture of)failure
“If the established political parties do not want to keep pace with the younger generation, they should heed the points mentioned: Open structures, more opportunities for participation, digitization and the financing of up-and-coming young candidates make parties attractive for young politicians,” says FRFG Ambassador Yannick Haan. At the same time, the parties could counteract their loss of members and win the votes of young voters. Haan: “Dear parties: Become sustainable.”
The SRzG has sent its 11-point plan to the state and federal leaders of the German parties. The comments are summarized in a report.