Thursday 28 November 2019
For eight years, compulsory military service is suspended – and therefore the civil service. The leader of the CDU Kramp-Karrenbauer is concerned with social cohesion and promotes the introduction of a general duty. In his own part, however, there are concerns.
CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer campaigned for a broad debate on the introduction of a general service obligation for young people. "It threatens to lose something without a long-term company cannot exist: the cohesion of its citizens," he told the media group Funke. "For me, the community within the population is at the top." He had heard a lot about the subject during his "Listening Tour" inside the CDU. "I share many of these thoughts and find it very important to discuss the duty of service in Germany," said Kramp-Karrenbauer. "For me it is also a profoundly bourgeois idea of wanting to give something back to his country and his society."
Experts from the CDU headquarters are discussing this one-year service for young people after school years in a socially relevant non-profit area in a so-called seminar. Already as general secretary Kramp-Karrenbauer had brought duty into conversation. This could be done not only with the Bundeswehr, but also in care or with the fire department.
But even before the "seminar speech" there are reservations about the idea. Such a duty would probably not be possible without a constitutional amendment. And the necessary two-thirds majority is currently unpredictable. Therefore, the push is also considered skeptical in Kramp-Karren Bauer's party. The two vice presidents of the CDU, the prime ministers Armin Laschet (NRW) and Volker Bouffier (Assia), believe that the two-thirds majority required for a constitutional amendment will not materialize. But they are not fundamentally opposed to greater involvement of young people in society.
The FDP warns against its economic objective
In 2011, general conscription and therefore the civil service had been suspended in Germany. In place of the community service, the Federal Voluntary Service was introduced. According to the Federal Ministry of Youth, around 40,000 people are currently involved in this service every year, not just young people.
The leader of the FDP parliamentary group Christian Lindner has spoken out against a duty of service. The state "should guarantee freedom and not act as a guardian or educator," he said. The FDP leader added: "A whole year of young people would be nationalized, only so that the CDU could profile the political party". In our opinion, a duty violates the Basic Law, it would also be a resource that wastes resources due to lack of skills and demographic change.
Amthor calls for a long-term approach
The CDU delegate Philipp Amthor told the editorial network Germany in view of a constitutional amendment: "We should not impose any prohibition on thinking". It was less of a political discussion on that day than of the legitimate question of how the CDU could expand its program. This could include "that in the further policy planning process we choose to support this constitutional change in future coalitions and in society".
Amthor acknowledged that a two-thirds majority in the Bundestag and the Bundesrat "would not meet from today to tomorrow". But even below the threshold of a constitutional change there are rather interesting alternatives – "like the model proposed by Volker Bouffier (…) of a year of volunteering with substantial incentives, such as the benefits in the allocation of the post of study".
Former Federal Commissioner for Civil Service, Jens Kreuter, supports the Kramp-Karrenbauers initiative. "With a charity service, we could present to young people the idea of living in a community where the responsibility of the individual is not exhausted by the transfer to the tax office," he told the "Stuttgarter Zeitung ". Consequently, the constitutional objections "are not so serious as to oppose this service". A year of beneficial service could in any case "cause an effect of exceptional integration," said Kreuter.