It took around two terms at Augsburg University until I realised that there are elections – and four more to wake my interest. Credit to a coursemate of mine, who ran as a candidate for the Young Socialists (Jusos). This term I wanted to vote. This term I wanted to use the right we all have and barely ever think of. And there’s more: I even planned to write an article about my experience and the electoral system.
The first thing I did was visit my coursemate. Solid as a rock he stood, promoting the elections, waves of his fellow students passing him by with very indifferent looks on their faces. Most of them didn’t even glance at the small booth in front of Alte Cafete where info material and small giveaways were neatly arranged on the table, waiting for interested people to come. I was greeted with a smile as I advanced with determination. In a few moments, I thought, I would finally understand the electoral system and the possibilities of participation we all have. I thought of this to be the easiest research I’d ever done.
How my plan failed
The guy standing in front of me answered my question on the electoral system with a slightly uneasy smile and led me to an enormous chart. Really, it was huge. After two minutes I lost my confidence and after five my focus. Most countries have easier electoral systems. Even the American system is easier to understand. How should I ever write an article about that? I had to change my plans, so I decided to write about how I experienced voting in general. Polling day advanced.
How my second plan failed
As always, I waited until the very last moment. Only 15 minutes were left before the polling stations would close. Stressed out I was looking for the small slip of paper with the room number given to me by my coursemate. I couldn’t find it. Running around I asked people where the polling station was. Nobody knew! I couldn’t see a damn sign anywhere. Not even an arrow! How was I supposed to write an article about an election I never took part in? I could’ve written about how the university should inform the students about the elections from their first day on. Or how they could put up a big banner with information as they do for the exam enrolment. Finally, it came to my mind that there is something more important to say.
The last straw
I decided to say thank you. Thanks to all fellow students who ran as candidates in these elections. Thanks to everybody who voted in the election or took part in its organisation. And finally, thanks to my coursemate and all the other students who make an effort to represent us, even if we don’t know. Without them, we would hardly be represented at all. If we don’t take part in the elections for ourselves, we should take part as a small gesture of respect and appreciation towards our representatives. It would have the positive side-effect of shaping the university’s politics as we want them to be. How is there supposed to be any change, if we don’t vote on it? Next time I will vote. We should all vote. It just takes a few minutes and doesn’t hurt. Or so I’ve been told.
Author: Nicolas Pols