Am Friday still had the CDU clearing up an issue on which she was lagging behind the other parties. With a narrow majority, the delegates voted for a women’s quota. On Saturday it was the opposite. It was about a project with which the party, at least according to the proponents, should march ahead in an important debate in the future: a compulsory social year for young women and men.
Duties are actually not a campaign hit. But the topic is currently booming, also due to the Russian attack on Ukraine. The majority of Germans seem to have become receptive to such plans. The fact that the mood has changed among people in Germany, similar to that on the subject of nuclear power, was indicated by a survey on Saturday reported by the “Bild” newspaper. According to her, around two-thirds of those surveyed are now in favor of a mandatory year of social service. It should be noted that enthusiasm increases the older the respondents are. Among the youngest respondents between 18 and 29 years old, only about half like the idea.
The CDU party leader Friedrich Merz had become a trendsetter at the beginning of June. He had opened the most recent round when he spoke out in favor of “general compulsory service with the possibility, of course, of also serving in the Bundeswehr”. Since then, notable camps have formed across party lines.
“New worlds of life” through compulsory service
The Federal President, for example, is sympathetic to the idea Frank Walter Steinmeier, whose SPD membership is suspended, and the left Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow. It is unimaginable for her party friends Eva Högl (SPD) and Dietmar Bartsch (Left Party) as well as for Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP). There is no party in the Bundestag that would be in favor of compulsory service – with the exception of the AfD, which in its basic program wants to turn back the wheel and reintroduce conscription for men, which was suspended in 2011.
Merz did without it on Saturday, unlike the day before quota for womento tell the delegates what result he would like. He let others lead the debate on whether the CDU only wants to stand up for a voluntary or a mandatory year in the future.
Deputy CDU party leader Silvie Breher warned that only a fraction of young people could be reached voluntarily. A duty gives them the opportunity to develop new ideas and living environments. Duty, Breher continued, doesn’t hold society together, but the experiences they went through during it did.
One opponent, MP Günter Krings from North Rhine-Westphalia, opposed “educating adults”. That doesn’t fit the CDU’s liberal image of man. The state lives from volunteering, and volunteering lives from voluntariness. His party could not win a “mandatory debate”. One young delegate said she didn’t want to have to explain to 18-year-old voters at the next election why they should also do compulsory service after two years of the pandemic. The deputy federal chairman, Carsten Linnemann, countered that the service would have to be designed in such a way that the young people would be “in the mood”.
MP Roderich Kiesewetter questioned soberly and well-founded that a mandatory service could currently be implemented. The offers are already too small for the volunteers. A duty would bind forces that would otherwise be needed. “I know exactly how much supervision conscription required,” said the former Bundeswehr colonel. There is no staff for that.
Deputy CDU party leader Karin Prien cited Israel as an example that things could be done differently. There, women and men do military service for several years. “If you want to defend peace and freedom, you need young people,” says Prien. Togetherness does not come for free.
Bernd Althusmann said the CDU should have the courage to demand something from the people in the country. That will be rewarded. According to the CDU chairman from Lower Saxony, who himself completed officer training at the armed forces graduated The abolition of conscription was a mistake, he said. That convinced. At the end of the day, the delegates clearly voted for the obligation with a show of hands.