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Survey: Young Germans believe in democracy, but distrust politics

Survey: Young Germans believe in democracy, but distrust politics

The experts call it pessimism about the future: According to a study, many young people believe in democracy, but doubt the ability of politics to solve problems. But there are remedies to combat such warning signals, according to the experts.

Although trust in democracy is relatively strong among young Germans, many of them distrust the government and parliament.

As a study presented by the Bertelsmann Foundation with survey data from the previous year shows, 59 percent of the 18 to 30 year-olds surveyed have more trust in democracy than the average in nine other European countries (50 percent). On the other hand, distrust of politicians is also widespread in this country: more than one in two young adults surveyed from Germany (52 percent) said they did not trust the government, and 45 percent distrusted parliament.

Don’t gamble away your trust in democracy

In combination with a pronounced pessimism about the future, the experts see this as a warning signal. It is now important not to gamble away the trust in democracy, says the Bertelsmann Foundation. This requires targeted measures to reinvigorate faith in politics’ ability to solve problems, the authors warn with regard to Germany. “There is a risk that otherwise young people will turn to those who promise solutions that are too simple and thus become open to radical ideas,” said Regina von Görtz, youth expert at the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Last spring, the Dutch market research institute Glocalities, commissioned by the Bertelsmann Foundation, asked 2,248 people from Germany about their attitudes in a representative survey, including more than 500 people between the ages of 18 and 30. The results were then compared with survey data from identical surveys in Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Great Britain.

Respondents are more concerned about the future

In order to strengthen trust in political processes, the authors recommend forward-looking policies that specifically address the needs of young people and their concerns. Here the study provides starting points: According to the survey, human rights violations (mentioned by 51 percent of younger respondents), climate change (46 percent) as well as the topics of sexual harassment and abuse (45 percent) and child abuse (42 percent) are among the aspects that the young generation is concerned about cause the most concern.

Fear of mental health problems affects adults under the age of 31 (41 percent) noticeably more often than the older generation – only 26 percent of 31 to 70 year olds mention this as a worry.

Regardless of their age, those surveyed were more concerned about the future: 36 percent of younger people and even 42 percent of older people expected things to get worse – including factors such as climate change, living standards and income inequality.

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According to the study, the findings indicate that both the younger and older generations have little confidence in the political management of future challenges, according to the Bertelsmann Foundation. Young adults in Germany are, on average, more pessimistic than their peers in other countries.

Source: Stern

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