Top­ic: Inter­gen­er­a­tional Jus­tice and vot­ing rights from birth

Accord­ing to the con­sti­tu­tion, all the author­i­ty is giv­en to the state by the nation. Nonethe­less, all under 18-year-olds (about 14 Mil­lion cit­i­zens) are cur­rent­ly exclud­ed from the vot­ing process. Since April 2004 there has been a cross-par­ty pro­pos­al to intro­duce the vot­ing right from birth, either by low­er­ing the vot­ing age, or by intro­duc­ing vot­ing by proxy. In the for­mer case, the child should be able to vote from when­ev­er he/she wants to; in the lat­ter case, the par­ents would be able to vote on behalf of their chil­dren whilst they are still under­age. In both cas­es, the pre­vi­ous­ly voice­less fifth of the Ger­man pop­u­la­tion would be includ­ed in the vot­ing process. The effects on par­ty poli­cies, edu­ca­tion, the fam­i­ly and soci­ety would be com­plex and far-reach­ing, espe­cial­ly giv­en the cur­rent demo­graph­ic trend towards an age­ing society.


The ques­tions for the Inter­gen­er­a­tional Jus­tice Prize 2005/2006 were:

  1. Does the democ­ra­cy prin­ci­ple demand vot­ing rights from birth? Which mod­els or pro­ce­dures are possible?
  2. Would vot­ing rights from birth help realise inter­gen­er­a­tional justice?
  3. What resis­tance and reser­va­tions should be expect­ed from soci­ety, and how can these be overcome?



Con­grat­u­la­tions to the fol­low­ing prize-winners:

1st Place (€5,000):
Wolf­gang Gründiger

2nd Place (€2,000):
David Krebs

3rd Place (3 x €1,000):
Ines Brock
Albrecht Man­gler & Stephan Hahr
Dr. Tim Krieger


Symposium 2006, 9–11 June, Berlin

Vot­ing Rights from Birth – A chance for more inter­gen­er­a­tional justice?


One fifth of the Ger­man pop­u­la­tion does not have the right to vote. Espe­cial­ly giv­en the demo­graph­ic change, the ques­tion of whether chil­dren, youths and fam­i­lies are still ade­quate­ly rep­re­sent­ed needs to be addressed. In order to high­light the needs of young peo­ple and fam­i­lies, and to give the polit­i­cal and soci­o­log­i­cal dis­cus­sions a new impulse, the FRFG and the Project Office “Dia­logue of Gen­er­a­tions” cre­at­ed a sym­po­sium with the title:

Vot­ing Rights from Birth – A chance for more inter­gen­er­a­tional justice?

sym_2006_2The cen­tral idea of the event was to dis­cuss the oppor­tu­ni­ties for polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion for chil­dren, youths and fam­i­lies. The aims of the sym­po­sium were to bring the theme “Vot­ing Rights from Birth” back into pub­lic aware­ness, to gath­er the exper­tise and expe­ri­ence of the lec­tur­ers and par­tic­i­pants and to weigh up to pos­si­bil­i­ty of incor­po­rat­ing these rights into the con­sti­tu­tion. Over and above that, the event cre­at­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty for polit­i­cal per­son­al­i­ties (such as Dr. Lore Maria Peschel-Gutzeit [ex- Sen­a­tor of Jus­tice fron Ham­burg], Prof. Dr. med. Gun­ther Moll [Uni­ver­si­ty of  Erlan­gen] and Dr. Wolf­gang Gais­er [Ger­man Youthin­sti­tut]) to exchange ideas.

Over 35 par­tic­i­pants from var­i­ous fields, includ­ing lawyers, politi­cians, psy­chol­o­gists and doc­tors found them­selves work­ing side by side. Their ages ranged from 20 to 75 years, mak­ing an inter­gen­er­a­tional and mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary dis­cus­sion pos­si­ble. Many dif­fer­ent sug­ges­tions of how to imple­ment “Vot­ing rights from Birth” were intro­duced and dis­cussed through pre­sen­ta­tions, debates, podi­um dis­cus­sions and workshops.sym_2006_3

One of the cen­tral ques­tions of the sym­po­sium was in how far under–18s should be allowed to vote them­selves, or through their parents.

One of the high­lights of the sym­po­sium was the awards cer­e­mo­ny of the Inter­gen­er­a­tional Jus­tice Prize 2005/06 .

The best arti­cles are pub­lished in the book “Vot­ing rights with­out an age restric­tion?” Con­sid­er­a­tions of con­sti­tu­tion­al law, democ­ra­cy the­o­ry and psy­cho­log­i­cal development.