The youngest member of the German Bundestag has suggested that every individual who wants to vote in elections should be permitted to, even down to the age of two.
In a joint interview with former Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble for the Focus publication, 24-year-old politician Emilia Fester spoke out in favor of voting rights for all, even those who have not yet learned to walk.
The pair had been discussing the concerns of young people in today’s society, namely the issue of climate change, the pandemic, a dip in the European economy, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Fester argued that young people in politics “are underrepresented.”
“The right to vote from the age of 18 is not exactly helpful,” she added, before suggesting that children as young as two should be allowed the right to vote if they wanted to.
The full exchange is below:
Schäuble: “I have a question for you: I have four grandchildren aged two, four, 15, and 17. Which of them do you think should be allowed to vote?”
Fester: “For me personally: everyone who wants to.”
Schäuble: “So my two-year-old too?”
Fester: “That’s how I see it personally. As a representative of my group, I say: 15- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote.”
Schäuble, the CDU former president of the Bundestag, remained unconvinced that lowering the voting age to two was a policy that would benefit democracy in the country.
“There are good reasons for an age limit,” he explained to Fester. “We know that from criminal and civil law. Those who vote must be aware of the implications of their choice. They need to know whom to trust to bear the burden of responsibility, especially in difficult times,” Schäuble added.
The Greens manifesto called for 16-year-olds to be able to vote, a policy that has since been adopted by the traffic light coalition in Germany.