BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have been thrown off balance days before Germans vote in European Parliament elections by a 26-year-old’s hour-long YouTube polemic, which has been watched over 5 million times in just five days.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) responded to the video, in which the video blogger “Rezo” accuses them of “destroying the future” through inaction on climate change and by favouring the rich, in a close-typed 11-page rebuttal on Thursday.
“If we don’t change course, like, now, then the future of the young generation and all future generations is quite simply in the toilet,” said the fast-talking, blue-haired Rezo in the video, in which he wore an orange hooded top.
The CDU said it had considered responding in kind with a video, but had chosen instead to issue a more traditional, albeit unusually lengthy, statement intended to reach all ages.
“Click tallies are the currency of YouTubers. Trust is the currency of a people’s party,” read the statement - to some online bemusement, even in a country whose adoption of digital technologies has been notoriously slow.
In Germany, as elsewhere generational equity — and the growing electoral weight of the elderly in ageing Western societies where birth rates are low — is increasingly becoming a political issue.
On Friday, thousands of young people in Germany and across Europe are set to take time out from school on Friday to join a global strike against climate inaction by those in power.
“One thing is clear,” Rezo wrote on his YouTube page. “Go and vote next weekend. Otherwise pensioners will decide your future, and that’s not cool.”
The conservatives are likely to come first in Sunday’s European Parliament vote in Germany, but face a stiff challenge from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), whose climate policies Rezo also slammed.
Merkel’s Social Democrat coalition partners also came in for criticism, albeit milder.
Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Michael Nienaber; Editing by Kevin Liffey