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Germany's young voters back ‘grandmother Merkel’(797 words)

By Stefan Wagstyl

Patrick Janota struggles to imagine Germany without Angela Merkel. The chancellor “has been there ever since I first had any idea about the world around me”, says the 25-year-old management student from Bavaria on a visit to Berlin's Reichstag, the imposing home of the German parliament.

Already in office for 12 years, Ms Merkel is campaigning for a fourth term in next month's parliamentary elections. But the 63-year-old's long tenure at the helm of German politics does not seem to be bringing any backlash from disgruntled younger voters worried about out-of-touch or ageing leadership.

Rather, the chancellor's Christian Democrat Union is banking on capturing a surge in the youth vote, seeing evidence that many young Germans see little alternative to the veteran chancellor.

Mr Janota says he has yet to decide how to vote — but he backed Ms Merkel's conservatives in 2013 and finds it hard to take any of her current challengers seriously, including the social democrat leader Martin Schulz. “It's hard to compare any of the others with her,” he says.

Ms Merkel's relative popularity with younger voters is another sign of her ability to build broad support for her centre-right platform. It is bolstered among young voters by some admiration for flashes of liberal leadership — as with her insistence on an “open doors” policy for refugees to Germany two years ago.

Even critics acknowledge her qualities. Joshua Schmidt, a 26-year-old student from Bonn, voted in 2013 for the anarchistic Party party and says disparagingly that Ms Merkel has impressive public relations. “People are naïve and follow her.” But even this self-confessed radical says: “She does her job well, and she sometimes goes against her own party. I would not say ‘Merkel must go’.”

In the decades after the second world war young Germans usually preferred the social democrats, and later the Greens, in common with a general post-1945 European tendency for the young to support progressive forces over conservative parties.

But in 2013, Ms Merkel's personal appeal helped the CDU take the largest share of votes among 18-24-year-olds — the first time it has done so without the contribution of the Christian Social Union, its Bavarian sister party.

Opinion polls this time suggest similarly strong support. A Forsa opinion poll in June showed that 57 per cent of 18-21 year-old Germans backed Ms Merkel as chancellor, compared to 53 per cent of all voters.

Ulrich Schneekloth, senior director at Kantar Public, an opinion research group, says: “Fundamentally, young people have been more likely to vote for the Greens or Social Democrats. But in the last couple of years, we have seen them backing Angela Merkel in a personal way. In the refugee crisis, her support among young people fell away much less than with the average voters. It seems young people supported her liberal approach.”

Worried about alienating conservative supporters, Ms Merkel has subsequently become tougher over refugees and migration, But significantly for young voters she has managed to retain much of her liberal aura. Donald Trump's arrival in the White House and his “America First” policy has further rallied liberal-minded young Germans around the chancellor.

The SPD, fighting pro-Merkel sentiment, argues that the chancellor's policies have been detrimental to young people across Europe. “I don't think Angela Merkel has done so well,” says Johanna Uekermann, who chairs the SPD's youth wing. “She has damaged Europe with her extreme austerity policy towards Greece and some other countries, where unemployment is now very high — especially among young people.”

The CDU itself does not want to over-emphasise Ms Merkel's liberalism. Paul Ziemiak, head of the party's youth movement, says “reliability and credibility” are at the heart of her popularity. And he says that since the 1980s the young have become more conservative. “Our generation seems to focus on more traditional values than their parents. Examples are marriage, education and cultural tradition,” he says.

Meanwhile, concerns about security, a classic conservative political issue, matter as much for the young as for older people, Mr Ziemiak says. “When I started going out at the age of 16 in 2001, nobody imagined there could be a terrorist attack in Germany, on the streets or in a disco … everything today is different.”

None of this means that the youth vote dominates CDU campaign planning. Older voters are simply more numerous: 21.6m people of voting age are under 40, compared to 47m who are older. Older people are also more likely to vote, and far more likely to vote conservative when they do. The CDU/CSU scored 32 per cent among those aged 18-24 in 2013. But it scored 52 per cent among those aged 70 and above.

Yet the CDU is confident that enough young voters will stick by a chancellor known to many Germans simply as “Mutti”. Professor Manfred Güllner, head of Forsa polling, says: “These young people have grown up with Merkel. She is like a grandmother to this generation.”

1.To which party does Angela Merkel belong?

A.Christian Democrat Union.

B.Christian Social Union.

C.Social Democratic Party.

D.Catholic Social Party.


2.How long is the office term of government in Germany?

A.Two years.

B.Four years.

C.Five years.

D.Eight years.


3.Which of the following is not a reason why Merkel is capturing a surge in the youth vote?

A.Merkel's insistence on her liberal approach to refugees in Germany.

B.Merkel's ability to build broad support for her centre-right platform.

C.Merkel's austerity policy towards Greece and some other European countries

D.Trump and his “America First” policy rallied young liberals around Merkel.


4.In the last paragraph, what does Professor Güllner mean by saying “she is like a grandmother to this generation”?

A.Merkel is popular among young people partly because of her charisma.

B.Young people in German have a tendency to support aged candidates.

C.Young people have grown up in Merkel's tenure and feel comfortable with her.

D.Young Germans believe extensive experience is one of Merkel's greatest strengths.


(1)答案:A.Christian Democrat Union.


(2)答案:B.Four years.


(3)答案:C.Merkel's austerity policy towards Greece and some other European countries


(4)答案:C.Young people have grown up in Merkel's tenure and feel comfortable with her.


內容來自 聽力課堂網:http://www.fpiumv.live/show-10253-463015-1.html

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