Here is an idea for more family-friendly government policy: votes for children. A multi-party group of 46 German parliamentarians has proposed that every German citizen should have the right to vote, and that parents should be able to exercise the vote for their children. Currently, Germany follows the lead of most other democratic countries in limiting voting to adults 18 years of age and older. Some German states allow voting starting at age 16 for local elections.

The idea has backing from some members of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, the centre-left Social Democratic Party and the free-market Free Democratic Party, as well as the former minister for family affairs and the Bundestag vice-president. A similar proposal was defeated in 2005 because it would require a change in the Constitution. Opponents argued that parents would vote according to their own wishes and not those of their children (which shows how little confidence German politicians have in parents).

Reports we have read do not go into the reasons the idea has been resurrected, but Germany’s top-heavy age structure is an obvious one. In April the German cabinet decided to increase state pensions by 1.1 this year and by as much as 2 per cent next year. This is more than double the pension limits set by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s predecessor. Former German president Roman Herzog warned that the country is creating a “pensioner democracy” at the expense of the young. ~ Deutsche Welle, July 9; April 11