Do you speak politics?

Voter turnout has been falling for years, and parties have problems recruiting young people. Why is it no longer possible to get young people interested in political issues? In the search for explanations and solutions, it seemed useful to take a look at political communication and, in particular, the language used by political actors – from the perspective of young people themselves.

With scientific support and in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Berlin students asked the question “Do you speak politics?” meaningfully to young people all over Germany. Group interviews at a wide variety of Berlin schools were followed by the largest online survey on the topic of youth and politics ever conducted in Germany.

The study focused on young people in the 16 to 19 age group, i.e. at an age when they first come into contact with elections, politics and thus democracy that they can experience themselves.

The results show that there is a basic willingness among young people to think and participate. However, the language used by political actors has a major influence on young people’s interest and willingness to inform themselves. This is because the way politics is presented and negotiated in many cases causes them to become overwhelmed and turn away from politics. At the same time, there is an awareness that one’s own contribution matters in order to keep democracy healthy. This is the dilemma young people find themselves in: The feeling of being needed in democracy, but not having the opportunities to fulfill this role.

The interviewees themselves point to a lack of practice in political debate and political education. Above all, however, they emphasize the counterproductivity of politicians’ communication and criticize the often incomprehensible language, which is interspersed with foreign words or artificial words as well as euphemisms and, moreover, is often not adequately “translated” by the media.

This basic and many other revealing results can be viewed on this website. It is intended to contribute to the exchange about political topics – especially about political language itself. After all, the question of how this exchange about language can be promoted was the basis and leitmotif of this study.

The team of “Do you speak politics?” and the department “Politics and Society” of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung wish you a lot of joy in discovering while reading as well as a gain in content while discussing.

  • December 25, 2022