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Daring More Democracy (October 28, 1969)

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We turn to the generations that have grown up in peace, which are not, and should not be, weighed down with the burden of the elders’ guilt; [to] those young people who want to – and should – believe what we say. But these young people need to understand that they too have obligations towards the state and society.

We will be presenting a bill to the High House [Bundestag] that will lower the voting age from 21 to 18 and the minimum age to run for office from 25 to 21. (Applause from the government parties.) We will also review the legal age [of majority].

Participation and sharing responsibility in different areas of our society will be a driving force in the coming years. We cannot create a perfect democracy. We want a society that grants greater freedom and demands more joint responsibility. This government seeks out communication and a critical partnership with everyone who bears responsibility, whether in the churches, the arts, science and industry, or other areas of society.

This applies not least to the trade unions, and we are striving to gain cooperation on the basis of trust. We do not need to give them confirmation of their outstanding significance for this state, for its further development into a social welfare state under the rule of law.

If we are to accomplish all that must be accomplished, then we will need all the active forces in our society. A society that wants to be open to all worldviews and religious convictions needs ethical stimuli that are proven in service and solidarity towards our neighbors. It cannot be a matter of merely accepting what the churches accomplish for the family, in work with young people, or in education. We see common tasks, especially where the elderly, sick, and physically or mentally disabled, in their need, require not only material assistance but also human solidarity. In the service of people – not only in one’s own country, but also in the developing world – the work of church and social groups comes together with political activities.

We will continually work towards bringing together the justified wishes of forces in society and the political will of the government.

[ . . . ]

Source: Willy Brandt, Policy Statement of October 28, 1969. German Bundestag, Stenographische Berichte, 5th Session, vol. 71, pp. 20-21.

Translation: Allison Brown

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