Generation Greta and I: I support referendums

DAUGHTER: Sometimes I think that hardly anyone except me is interested in politics.

MOTHER: I think that’s wrong. Many are watching very closely what is happening. When it comes to participation, it might look a little different. When it comes to the Bundestag, between 70 and 80 percent of the electorate vote. But there have already been more, and in other elections the turnout is also significantly lower.

I think we should have more referendums. It’s about specific topics and if you choose, you have to know your way around.

I’m a little afraid of referendums. The mood seems very manipulable to me and sometimes it just comes to nothing. At Tegel Airport, the majority voted for continued operation, but that was not feasible at all. And the other negative example for me is Brexit, where a campaign marked by lies, bypassing Parliament, is now leading to Britain’s exit from the EU.

But there was a lot of interest in the topic and people got informed, but of course, such a vote is more prone to populism than lengthy parliamentary processes.

There is no black and white on such a question, should my country get out of the EU. And you can’t judge that from personal experience either. You have to be very knowledgeable in order to see the consequences. If people don’t know their way around, the risk of whispering is huge. I don’t want such serious decisions to be made in referendums. The interaction between experts, politicians, citizens, lawyers and business is important.

So you deny the citizens of their maturity. You say the people are too stupid.

You can’t make the whole structure of a continent dependent on such a single vote. I think that’s out of proportion.

Some problems may be too complex. But you can set the limits. At regional and local level, a great many decisions could be left to the citizens. If I could have a say in whether a daycare center, a park or a swimming pool should be built, I would be more interested in my place and the politics in my place. I would then also have a closer relationship with this place.

Would that change anything?

Yes I think so. For example, I’ll move away at some point, and I probably won’t come back either. Perhaps that would be different if I had developed a closer bond with the place because I helped shape it. Of course, clarification must also take place before such a referendum. The politicians just have to talk to the people more, but it also brings them closer together.

Of course that’s true. Perhaps citizens’ councils would be a solution or votes only to express their will.

No, if it isn’t implemented anyway, I don’t need a referendum. A survey is enough. And councils, into which one then has to be elected, are neither halves nor whole. It’s all about exerting influence.

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