bChancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) considers the introduction of general compulsory military service for young people in Germany to be unlikely. He is convinced that there will no longer be “military service like before,” he said on Monday evening during a discussion with newspaper readers of the VRM media group in Mainz: “We will not return to a conscript army with 400,000 soldiers.”

One reason for the suspension of compulsory military service was that the draft practice in previous years had been unfair. Many young men who did not want to refuse military service were no longer called up at all. Community service was always intended as a replacement for service in the Bundeswehr.

The transition to general compulsory service is made more difficult by the fact that the Basic Law banned compulsory work following the experience of the Nazi dictatorship. Without a change in the Basic Law, compulsory service for young people would not be possible, said Scholz.

In the social sector, the situation is currently such that many more people are interested in volunteering than there are places available. The debate must also take into account that Germany is facing ever greater challenges due to a labor shortage and that the employees drafted into compulsory service would then be missing “in the factory”. “The matter is not entirely trivial,” said Scholz.

Implementation of the coalition agreement at “80, 90 percent”

There is currently debate about whether the suspension of compulsory military service in 2011 was a mistake. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) recently stated that he was open to general compulsory military service. Many people in Germany no longer understand “why soldiers protect our country and therefore all of us.”

Scholz also said in Mainz that he sees most of the 2021 traffic light coalition agreement as already implemented. “If you take the coalition agreement and what we have written down, we would certainly be closer to 80, 90 percent,” said Scholz in Mainz. “We probably won’t reach 100,” he added. “But I think it’s possible that we end up at 90 percent despite a fairly ambitious program for a good future for Germany.”

The traffic light government formed by the SPD, Greens and FDP started its four-year term in office on December 8, 2021 with a 141-page coalition agreement entitled “Dare to make more progress – Alliance for Freedom, Justice and Sustainability”. At half-time last summer, the Bertelsmann Foundation presented a study on implementation. Of the 453 promises from the coalition agreement, the authors saw almost two thirds (64 percent) as either implemented (38 percent) or initiated (26 percent). Compared to the previous government, the traffic light has achieved a little less proportionately, but the absolute number of government projects that have already been undertaken is higher.