The auditorium of the herzogenaurach high school was like a polling station on wednesday. Ballot boxes and voting booths were set up. The election workers have lists of names in front of them, make check marks and wait for new "voters". Around 120 eleventh-grade students were called upon to cast their votes in the bavaria-wide junior elections.
"The earlier young people are introduced to elections and politics, the more likely it is that they will vote regularly and participate politically later in life, explained election director and social studies teacher karin both-kowalski. The aim is to make the schoolchildren aware of the fundamental importance of the civic right of universal, direct, free, equal and secret suffrage in democracy: participation in elections is a first – but necessary – step towards broader political participation. The high school also participated in the last federal election. "The federal government would be a different one, because our young people voted very conservatively", the teacher said looking back.
Arousing interest in politics
The junior election is intended to awaken young people’s interest in politics and convey the joy of political participation. The basic prerequisite for this is a general understanding of the political system, which is supported by the didactic material for the preparatory lessons. In addition, this is intended to convey the importance of well-founded opinion-forming processes, at the end of which there is a well-founded political judgment on the part of young people.
It is about practicing and experiencing democracy. After the preparation in the past school year – as in the real state election on the coming sunday – the pupils entered the polling station with their voting notification and ID card. Election workers, who have created electoral registers and pay out the votes, ensure that the process runs smoothly. The junior election wanted to make an important contribution to the involvement of young people in political processes and thus strengthen democracy in the long term.
Since 1999, the junior election has been held nationwide for european, federal and state elections to encourage interest in politics, awaken enthusiasm for political participation and convey an appreciation of the democratic system – this year, immediately before the state elections, also at the schools in herzogenaurach.
"I wish for a life of peace and freedom and for politicians who take people’s concerns seriously", said the schoolgirl kathrin "but I won’t say what I choose, it’s a secret", she added. "It’s not just about simulating an election for the students, it’s also about the students taking the election home with them. Our schools should now discuss the junior election at home with their parents and relatives. Because studies have shown that this has a positive effect on voter turnout and even activates non-voters.", wishes karin both-kowalski. Election advertising was forbidden, the young people could prepare themselves in class, and even a member of the state parliament was not allowed to do any election advertising when she visited the high school. "Alexandra hiersemann gave the class an interesting insight into the work of the state parliament and it was a pity that the other candidates did not have time", the teacher regretted.
Political education is more important than ever. Populist tendencies, indifference and unwillingness to take political responsibility were dangers to democracy. At a time when the over-70s make up the largest group of eligible voters and the parties are having problems recruiting young people, it is important to listen to young people.
The results of the junior election will be determined on sunday at 6 p.M., just like in the real election, and will be published on monday morning.