Protesters gathered outside the Reichstag, which houses the lower chamber of Germany’s parliament, in central Berlin complained that young people were being squeezed out of politics ahead of the weekend election.
Others who were old enough to vote said their voices were being drowned out by the country’s aging population.
Amadeus Truman, a 27-year-old German literature student living in Berlin, has worked with Fridays for Future for more than two years, describing climate action and justice as his passion.
“The parties fighting now for the German parliament on Sunday have let us down. They are so many parties who are telling us they want to cut emissions and it’s on their top agenda, but they don’t have the measures in place, and have not told us how they are going about doing this,” he told CNN.
“I think young people in Germany are highly underrepresented in politics, in the party and voting system – there are so many elderly people that vote and our voices all young people under 40 do not count as much as for those who are, for example, 60 years and older because we have so many elderly people.”
Wolfgang Wolman, a 27-year-old film editor from Berlin, said he didn’t hold much hope the country’s next government would bring about the climate action needed.
“I blame the older generation for messing things up for us – not personally but in the total of society. They did not take a chance to do anything for us,” he said.
“Politicians had the chance to do something about climate change but they have failed us.”
Katharina Hetzel, a 22-year-old interning with Greenpeace and studying social sciences, said that politicians were “doing nothing or way too little.”
“So that’s why we have to be here. We want a good life – we want to protect our lives and that of our children and future generations to come. And of course, we have to protect Mother Earth,” she said.
“Politicians have not seen climate change as a big problem of our times and they thought it wouldn’t get worse. They simply did not think about us. They thought about their own lives and wellbeing. I really do feel they have forgotten us. I do think that our entire young generations thinks the same – that’s why we are here.”
She said that she wanted to see more young people in politics, including in parliament.
“If we look at the government there are a lot more older people than younger people and I believe the average age for members of parliament in the Bundestag is over 40 years old, so all the young people, their voices, their thoughts are not being respected or heard.”