Youthquakes in Russia and Germany: Inevitable and Futile?
- Victoria Kravtsova, Civic and Political Activist, Russia
- Yannick Haan, Chairman of the Social Democratic Party Alexanderplatz, Germany
- Maryna Rakhlei, Program Officer, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
On March 14, German Marshall Fund of the United States Berlin Office together with Dekabristen e.V. brought together interested youth from academic, political and civic circles to discuss political engagement of the youth in Russia and Germany, how effective and sustainable it could be.
Youthquake — political change effected by young people — was named Word of the Year in 2017 by Oxford Dictionaries as the generation of so-called millennials across the world protested against failing economic and social policies. Punished by the recession and looming youth unemployment, young people today feel compelled to make themselves heard and drive political change.
The speakers underlined the unsustainable character of youth protests and unexpected topics they pick up in different countries. Even more so, this ad hoc, sometimes almost anarchic character of the youthquakes is difficult to harness. Young people are attracted to single-issue protests and interested in immediate results which are often unattainable. At the same time, youthquakes around one problem are essential (or even unique!) to launch political debate within traditional political elites as well as broader public on certain issues. To mobilize youth and engage it in a sustainable way to promote good governance and democracy, conservative political and bureaucratic structures will have to be reformed and modernized. This way, they will allow for more political participation of younger generations.