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Cablegate: Bored to Tears - German Election Leaves Bavarian Youth

VZCZCXRO7624
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHYG
DE RUEHMZ #0234/01 2460811
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 030811Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4910
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUNICH 000234

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV EUN GM
SUBJECT: Bored To Tears - German Election Leaves Bavarian Youth
Cold

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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) Bavarian youth and German youth in general were intrigued
this past year with "Obamamania" and the workings of the 2008 U.S.
presidential campaign and elections that inspired young and old to
discuss politics in ways not seen in Bavaria for years. However,
despite the prominence in Germany this fall of important social and
political themes such as addressing the economic crisis and whether
to close down nuclear power facilities, it seems that the September
27 Bundestag elections have failed to capture the imaginations of
Bavaria's youth. Although Minister President Horst Seehofer has
worked to "rejuvenate" his Christian Social Union (CSU), even
students officially associated with the CSU seem disengaged. End
Summary.

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Major Themes Do Not Resonate Among Students
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2. (SBU) Informal talks with groups of Bavarian students that the
Consulate undertook recently revealed that, among our informal
sample at least, Bavarian students were to politics. This held true
even for the Bavarian Junge Union (JU), the youth wing of the major
Bavarian party, the CSU, whose leadership met with the Consul
General and Pol/Econ and Public Affairs sections on August 19.
Although the JU delegation expected a "nearly certain" positive
outcome for the CDU/CSU, they were surprisingly ill-informed about
German and world politics. They also confessed that they were not
using social networking media tools such as Twitter or Facebook.
The JU students complained that their peers had no time to debate
campaign issues seriously, or if they did, they were still not
interested in stumping for the CSU. The only topic of interest to
students, they told us, was the question of university fees. This
has not surfaced as an issue in the national election campaign.

3. (SBU) Likewise, contacts in the SPD youth organization "JUSOs"
confirmed the relative indifference among that set of students to
the current campaigns. We found that they had little interest in
the SPD party program itself; rather, students reported that their
peers were interested in the "star power" of politicians and the
cache that comes from direct, personal contact with them.

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Social Networking and Internet Under-used
-----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Expecting the youth organizations to have lively internet
presences, we surfed to their homepages. Youth organizations of
Bavaria's smaller major parties, SPD/JUSOS, FDP/JULIS, the
Greens/Gruene Jugend, and Die Linke/Linksjugend, had home pages that
seemed to represent their parties relatively well. As was our
impression from talks with the leadership, however, we found that
the pages of Junge Union Bayern (Bavaria) (http://www.ju-bayern.de)
and Junge Union Muenchen (http://www.ju-muenchen.de) revealed that
the JU either cared little about the Bundestag elections, or was so
sure about the CDU/CSU's success that they saw no need to work hard
in cyberspace. We found the pages weak on content and updated
infrequently. One link went to stale information on the European
Parliament elections, now long past. When we checked before meeting
with the JU representatives, links to social networking media such
as Twitter and Facebook were missing from the JU Munich homepage.
(They have since been added.)

------------------------------------------
Students Rally over University Fees but
Ignore the "Boring" National Campaign
------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Lack of interest in the current Bundestag campaign does
not mean that Bavarian students are politically uninvolved.
Repeated mass demonstrations protesting student fees in Munich
earlier this year, complete with long parades, showed that in
matters concerning them directly, the students were highly motivated
and active. Likewise, the students we met said they would certainly
vote in the elections, although the JU leadership was worried
because students complain that university work could keep them from
the polls. They told us that students seemed generally unaware of
the absentee voting ("Briefwahl") option. The conclusion from our
contacts was that students were indifferent to the Bundestag
elections because they found the campaigns boring and the
politicians unattractive. They even criticized the popular
Economics Minister zu Guttenberg for being "too slick." Since
current polls already seem to be predicting the outcome, we were
told, interest is further depressed.

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Comment

MUNICH 00000234 002 OF 002


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6. (SBU) Politics in Bavaria was turned upside down after the CSU
lost the absolute majority in Landtag elections in September 2008.
Minister President and CSU chairman Horst Seehofer has since tried
to rejuvenate a crusty party apparatus by installing younger
ministers and trying to engage more female politicians. His aim is
to reassert CSU domination Bavaria-wide. The youth of his party,
however, struck us as being lackadaisical about politics. In four
weeks, they will probably support the CSU in the Bundestag elections
if they go vote, but with constant challenges from the Free
Democratic Party (FDP) and Independents (Freie Waehler), the
question is, for how long?

7. (U) Consulate General Munich coordinated this report with Embassy
Berlin.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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