Federal President Steinmeier advocates compulsory social time for all young people. Family Minister Paus sees this as an "encroachment on the individual freedom of every young person". There is also a rebuff from the CDU, FDP and Left. However, one party takes pleasure in it.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier's initiative to introduce mandatory service for all young people in Germany met with mixed reactions. "I know it won't be easy, but I would like us to have a debate about mandatory social time," Steinmeier told the "Bild am Sonntag". Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus and the Young Liberals immediately rejected the proposal, with support coming from the CDU.
Steinmeier left it open how long such a service should last. "I deliberately said mandatory time, because it doesn't have to be a year. You can also choose a different period," said the Federal President. It's about the question "whether it wouldn't do our country good if women and men put themselves in the service of society for a certain period of time". According to Steinmeier, the compulsory period should be spent in the Bundeswehr, caring for the elderly, in facilities for the disabled or in shelters for the homeless.
According to the Federal President, a compulsory period can strengthen democracy and social cohesion. "Especially now, at a time when understanding for other life plans and opinions is decreasing, a social duty can be particularly valuable," said Steinmeier. "You get out of your own bubble, meet completely different people, help citizens in need. That breaks down prejudices and strengthens the sense of community."
Paus cannot gain anything from the advance. "Compulsory social service would mean an encroachment on the individual freedom of every young person," explained the Federal Minister for Family Affairs. "We should continue to give our young people, who have suffered particularly badly from the corona pandemic and still shown solidarity with their elders, the freedom to make their own decisions." At the same time, the Greens politician emphasized that the various programs for voluntary services are "very popular" with young people. "Many young people take advantage of this offer and get involved, mostly in social or ecological areas."
Rejection also came from the CSU. Bavaria's Minister of Social Affairs, Ulrike Scharf, considers compulsory service "not expedient," as she told the "Münchner Merkur" newspaper. Everyone should be able to contribute voluntarily according to their own wishes, talents and ideas. The Young Liberals also oppose renewed debate on the issue. "Simply no. The idea of compulsory service belongs back in the mothball box, from which it is taken out every few months by the Union and apparently also by Steinmeier," wrote the FDP youth organization on Twitter. "Young people don't need more duties at all, they need more rights," tweeted the federal director of the Left, Jörg Schindler. "For example, the right to an apprenticeship, your own apartment from the age of 18, a good salary."
CDU board member Serap Güler, on the other hand, supported Steinmeier's proposal. "The Federal President has large sections of the CDU at his side here," Güler said on Twitter. A mandatory year of service for young people could "have many advantages and contribute to social cohesion".
However, Steinmeier does not think it would make sense to reintroduce conscription: "I was in favor of conscription as long as it existed. It has been suspended, we now have a Bundeswehr with completely different structures. I advise against reopening the old debate about conscription to hang up."