Germany’s plan to reinstate conscription faces serious roadblock

Germany's liberal FDP says the new draft rules would amount to an invasion of privacy

Germany's Defense Minister Boris Pistorius arrives for a social dinner for defense ministers attending the NATO summit hosted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at Fort McNair on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD/S&D) will be forced to soften his new model of conscription, planned for 2025, after senior ministers from coalition partner Free Democrats (FDP) said they do not support conscription.

Pistorius presented his concrete proposal in June, which aims to “prepare German society for war” against the threat from Russia.

As Remix News reported, inspired by the Nordic countries, the model would have obliged 18-year-old male youths to fill in questionnaires about their interests, on the basis of which the most suitable candidates would be selected for medical examinations and possibly six months of service.

However, senior ministers of the liberal FDP have expressed their opposition to the model.

In a letter to Pistorius, Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said that while they shared their support for the Bundeswehr becoming a modern and efficient army, this could only be achieved through social acceptance. The FDP also noted that harvesting the data from the questionnaire itself would amount to an invasion of privacy.

Any “obligation for a small group of people to undergo medical examinations for military service would raise inevitable questions of justice,” they wrote, noting that it would be a profound intrusion into the lives of young people.

Pistorius has previously argued that the compulsory elements in his “soft” conscription model are negligible, as conscripts would be selected to join the armed forces on the basis of their interests. However, he will now be forced to further relax these elements, as he needs the support of his SPD coalition partners, the FDP and the Greens in parliament to reintroduce conscription.

Pistorius had originally planned to draft 5,000 men a year from 2025, a defense ministry spokesman confirmed.

The letter from Lindner and Buschmann was a further blow for Pistorius after it emerged that Germany’s defense budget will increase by less than the amount requested next year.

“This is annoying for me because it means I can’t introduce certain things at the speed required by the threat level,” Pistorius commented on Monday.

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