The future of politics
No other word is used so indiscriminately by politicians as the word ‘future’. Consequently, in the political context, the term has lost its fundamental meaning: only 7 percent of Germans agree with the statement that politicians in Germany are ‘well prepared for the future’. Elected representatives are therefore not deemed to have the core expertise needed to sustainably develop our country. This is accompanied by a loss of trust, which cannot be equated with a general lack of interest in politics. German citizens are not tired of politics, they are tired of the elected parties and politicians. This is confirmed by the fact that nine out of ten Germans say that politicians are no longer honest and election promises are not kept; similarly many claim that political parties are more interested in retaining power than in the well-being of citizens. And four out of five respondents agree with the statement that politicians will continue to lose support in the future.
Politics therefore faces the major challenge of addressing a widespread feeling among the population that decisions are made ‘from the top down’ or ‘over the heads’ of people. A willingness to engage in dialogue will be a central criterion here: firstly, in order to explain complex issues to the electorate/citizens, and, secondly, in order to make the case for understanding for the political decision-makers.
Research work carried out by the Foundation shows that Germans want to be more involved in the political process. More than three-quarters of German citizens support more referendums.
A mutual process is required to establish the basis for greater citizen involvement: on the one hand politicians must satisfy the increased need for openness and authenticity; on the other hand, citizens must learn more about political processes and sharpen their judgment. In this context, political education is evolving as a key challenge in the 21st century. A revival of democratic education is needed, since an understanding of politicians/parties and political insight are inextricably linked.