As the German military struggles to fill its ranks, the country’s governing CDU party has proposed reinstating military conscription while offering young men and women a chance to serve their country in other ways, Deutsche Welle reported.
Before general conscription was abolished in 2011 in favor of a professional army, all young men were obligated to either serve in the armed forces or spend a limited period of time performing an alternative service in civilian areas such as emergency management or medical care.
On Friday, CDU Secretary General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) that she did not expect a simple reinstatement of the military draft adding that “there are many possibilities to serve.”
However, the CDU’s parliamentary point man on defense, Henning Otte, struck a more cautious note.
"Old-fashioned universal conscription is not going to help us with our current security challenges," he said, adding that young people could serve in other areas, such as firefighting.
The parliamentary commissioner for defense, Hans-Peter Bartels, was equally skeptical arguing that conscription would clash with the country’s ban on forced labor.
The right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been foursquare behind the idea of bringing back mandatory military service with the leader of the party’s parliamentary faction, Alice Weidel, describing the suspension of conscription as “a grave mistake."
Military conscription was abolished in Germany in 2011 after 55 years because the government at the time said there was no longer a need for it.
Some analysts see the CDU’s proposal as a bid to curry favor with AfD voters who, as a recent poll showed, are strongly in favor of mandatory military service.
The idea is generally popular in Germany with a recent poll conducted by the survey center Civey, between May and August, finding 55.6 percent of respondents favor conscription as opposed to 39.6 percent against it.