On this cloudy sunday in September all of Germany comes together to elect a new federal government. Yes, we always hold elections on Sundays and no, I don’t know why. I’m sure there is a reason somewhere but I guess it also has a lot to do with tradition.
Voting for the federal government means you have two votes to cast, one is for an individual from a certain party who – if elected – gets to represent the municipality (and by extension you) in Berlin for the next four years. The second vote is for a political party from a long list of parties; some of them are old and well known and some are just crazy, like the party that is in favour of bringing the D-Mark back. There is no way Germany can bring back the D-Mark and abandon the Euro, it would be an economic debacle, we have invested too much of our money in the ‘health’ of the Euro and are also too large of an economy in Europe to not have the Euro as a currency. Another party wants to turn all political decisions into referendums, which I am sure is a good idea (not).
Why am I telling you all this? Because voting gets me excited, like watching a huge crane excited, like get to ride on a fire truck excited, in short, full childlike excitement all over the place!
All because you make two crosses on a piece of paper? – Yes! All because of that! Because I get to choose who becomes the next chancellor of Germany, who runs this country and makes decisions for all 80 million of us. I think this is reason enough to be excited.
But your vote is only 1 of of 61 million votes, it doesn’t matter. – Au contraire! I firmly believe that every vote counts, even though the party selection leaves much to be desired, you should always vote even if there is not one perfect party for you. You may disagree with some party believes and are agreeing with others, choose the party you feel most comfortable with and cast a vote for them. Just remember that not voting, is like giving your vote to the party you least want to get elected. It’s the way I see it. Four years ago, when the last federal election was held, only 70.8% of Germans voted, which was a historical low for our country. I’m hoping more people will have exercised their right to vote this year. And also, if you haven’t voted, you have no right to complain about the government as far as I’m concerned; you forfeited your complaining-rights when you decided not to show up at the polling station.
It’s funny that I never lost my infantile excitement over voting. I remember how angry I got with former-chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2005 when he asked the government if it was still behind him as their leader and they said no. The new election was to be held in September of 2005 which meant I wasn’t eligible to vote because I turned 18 in November that year. The regular election would have been in September 2006 and the first one I got to participate but instead, Schröder robbed me of my right to vote for another 4 years. And yes, I hold him personally responsible for the fact that I didn’t get to vote on federal level until 2009.
I take my voting seriously, it’s my way of participating in the democracy of this country of which I am a citizen. I take pride in my right to vote, partly because 100 years ago, my kind wasn’t even allowed to vote. Women first got the right to vote in Germany in 1918.
One vote may not seem like a lot but it’s all we got unless we become politicians (which I have no interest in). So I sit here until the polling stations close at 6 pm and the counting starts and try to not be nervously excited for the results, because I am. I want to know what Germany thinks, I want to see how the collective we decided and if my personal predictions come true.