Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier advocates the introduction of compulsory service in the social sector or in the Bundeswehr for all young women and men.

Steinmeier told the “Bild am Sonntag”: “I know it won’t be easy, but I would like us to have a debate about a social obligation.”

Steinmeier left it open how long such a service should last: “I deliberately said mandatory time, because it doesn’t have to be a year. You can also choose a different time period. The question is whether it would not be good for our country if women and men put themselves at the service of society for a certain period of time.”

The compulsory time should be done in the Bundeswehr as well as in the care of seniors, in facilities for the disabled or in shelters for the homeless. According to the Federal President, the mandatory period can strengthen democracy and social cohesion: “Especially now, at a time when understanding for other life plans and opinions is decreasing, a social mandatory period can be particularly valuable. You get out of your own bubble, meet completely different people, help citizens in need. That breaks down prejudices and strengthens the sense of community.”

Steinmeier, on the other hand, does not think the reintroduction of conscription makes sense: “I was in favor of conscription as long as it existed. It has been suspended, we now have a Bundeswehr with completely different structures. I advise against reopening the old debate about conscription.” However, the country is currently experiencing a growing understanding that people spend a certain amount of time working for the community, that they are committed. Politicians should take this up with a debate about compulsory social time.