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Fear of Brexit, Trump-style victory galvanizes German youngsters to vote
From:Xinhua  |  2017-09-24 01:26

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by Tian Ying

BERLIN, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- One day before the German federal election, campaigners from the organization, Smaller Than Five, are still out on the streets, mobilizing people to vote in order to keep the representation of voters of the far-right AfD low.

Smaller Than Five, with the agenda to urge voters not to give the AfD the 5 percent of votes it needs to get into German parliament, is one of several campaigns emerged in the wake of Brexit to motivate young people to vote during this year's federal election.

With Brexit and the U.S. election as wake-up calls, German youngsters came to realize they must fight for their own future, first of all, through electoral participation.

Nils Hirsch, a 29-year-old doctorate student in linguistics in Berlin, told Xinhua that people with university degree generally score a big turnout, but "especially this time, because they want to make sure the right-wing force will not get strong."

"After the election of American president Donald Trump, young people realized they may end up with such people in power," he added.

Jule Koenneke, a program coordinator of the youth-led campaign "Democracy needs you", said in the campaign's publicity video on YouTube: "It's very important that young people engage and go to the polling stations, especially now when you see young people were extremely underrepresented and stayed regrettably at home when the Brexit referendum took place."

Koenneke said, in the case of Brexit, the future of the young was decided by older generations. "I hope the same will not happen here."

The video "Democracy needs you", pointing out in bold letters that 30 percent of the under-30-year-old in Germany do not go to polling stations, called the young people into action at the end as "your vote makes difference".

These youth-led campaigns strived to reach their young audience through off-line activities as well as digitalized means such as YouTube videos and Facebook pages.

On the Facebook page of Smaller Than Five, an entry with a cartoon where a grass-chewing sheep has a reflection of a howling wolf, was subtitled as "what is actually behind the demands of the AfD".

Another post of the Smaller Than Five listed "10 good reasons not to choose AfD", accusing the right-wing Party of various harms, including adopting similar climate politics as Donald Trump, risking to have the EU abolished, ignoring right-wing extremist motivated crimes, advocating an "old-fashioned family picture" , and sowing hatred and mistrust with harsh language against refugees and migrants.

The Facebook page of the "Stop the AfD" campaign features an internet meme with Donald Trump shouting "Stop it". Also appealing to the young is a rap song created by hip-hop artist Claudio Esposito for the election in which he rapped "Go vote, but not the AfD".

This impact of Brexit and U.S. election on German voters has also been observed by Dr. Robert Vehrkamp, co-author of a study on attitudes towards populism among eligible voters in Germany of Bertelsmann Foundation, as he told German media, DW, that the rise of the right-wing populists in 2016 in Germany, together with Brexit and Trump, have energized the political mainstream to defend the system.


Backgrounder: Facts you need to know about German federal election 2017

BERLIN, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- The once-in-four-year German federal election will be held on Sunday, which will decide the proportion of the seats in the Bundestag, or the Federal Parliament, and thus decide the formation of the new government. Full story