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But how does it work? Who and what is up for election?
Through our projects and initiatives, we aim to motivate young people to exercise their right to vote. In collaboration with Dortmund’s Youth Welfare Office, we provide information about the right to vote and the political system of Germany in many places. We also engage in discussions about democratic values and make the concerns of young people visible. Participation doesn't begin or end with the right to vote. Our projects explicitly target young people who are (still) not eligible to vote. After all, they also have to live with the outcome of elections, even if they are not able to cast their votes. Some of our regular activities include U16 and U18 elections, panel discussions, visits to parliaments and other centres of political power, and video projects related to elections.
The core of our campaigns is the U16 and U18 elections. These elections are held nine days before an official election date. Young people make their choices in local elections, state elections, federal elections or european elections. Every young person under the age of 18 years residing in Germany is eligible to participate.
Just before the elections, public interest in the actions and promises of candidates, election programs, and political events is at its peak. Political opinions, visions of the future, and values are compared, and discussions take centre stage. It's precisely at this moment that children and young people can make a statement about where their political priorities, questions, and hopes lie.
To make current debates and discussions tangible, we invite candidates from major democratic parties to engage in a lively exchange of ideas. In these discussions, we bring forward the concerns of young people and provide them with the opportunity to address current and future decision-makers directly, sharing their wishes, ideas, and demands.
Many decisions are made outside the local level: In Düsseldorf, Berlin, or Brussels. On-site visits help to make decision-making processes and the key players more visible. Therefore, we regularly organize trips to various parliaments and aim to meet people and institutions involved in decision-making processes, even if they are not part of the parliament. Whether it's youth organizations, municipal or state political representatives, or other institutions. There are diverse opportunities and channels for expressing interests, although they are often not well-known.