Oberberg With Thorben Peping, the SPD Oberberg presented the youngest candidate for the regional parliament in its history. The student from Lindlar is 23, has been in the party for seven years and has been a member of the Lindlar town council for the SPD since 2020.
Thorben Peping had indeed planned this year to complete his studies in political science, sociology and psychology, which he began at the University of Bonn in 2018, with his bachelor’s thesis. Instead, in the summer of 2021, he decided to give in to party insistence and stand in the regional elections in May as the SPD candidate in northern Oberberg. At that time, a few weeks before the federal election, the SPD was forecast at a meager 15%. Peping saw this as a challenge, also in view of the national elections in 2022. He therefore decided: the bachelor’s thesis will be postponed, instead state politics is now on the agenda. This posed no problem for him: “Others go abroad for a year after school. I’ve never done that – I’m just going to do politics intensively for a year and then finish my studies,” he decided at the time.
One year could turn into several if Peping is indeed elected to state parliament, as it would be the start of a career as a professional politician – a very early start at age 23. Peping himself assesses this pragmatically. According to him, parliaments should reflect society as a whole, including in terms of age. Of course, there is no merit in simply being young: “Young people are not an infallible success, you also have to be up to it. You are welcome to test me to see if I am up to the task. He worked intensively on issues of state policy: “I am a document eater.
This also applies to his work in voluntary local politics: Since the 2020 local elections, he has been a member of the Lindlar city council and several specialist committees for the SPD. In addition, he is a citizen expert on the district’s youth protection committee. When he joined the SPD at the age of 16, he wanted to take responsibility – just as he had learned as a student representative in high school. For him, only the SPD was in question for political commitment: “I am a pragmatic person, but that does not exclude ideals. And I found my ideals in the history of the SPD and in its program.
Thorben Peping has been chairman of the youth organization of the SPD, i.e. the Oberberg district Jusos, since 2020. Does this mean that he is automatically assigned to the left wing of the party? The Lindlarer himself does not see it this way: “We Jusos here in the country belong to the pragmatic camp and are, as far as ideological currents are concerned, rather current-free. This is also due to the fact that among the Jusos in the district, students are not in the majority, but trainees and young employees in very different professions. Of the approximately 100 Jusos in Oberberg, perhaps 20 are really politically active. “And they are integrated into their respective local party and practical municipal work. It is largely free of ideology.
Without ideological blinders but with ideals: What does this mean concretely for the political objectives of the candidate? The student names social justice and therefore equal opportunities as important issues for him. For this, the same educational opportunities are essential for everyone, from daycare to graduation. “I had a lot of chances myself,” says Peping, whose parents are both teachers. For many, it still looks different, because the social background decides the chances. Among other things, it calls for more investment in education, starting with more teachers, especially in primary schools.
This is important for the 23-year-old: “I am not only defending political issues, but also a change in political culture.” Key words for this are human interaction in politics, more transparency in political work and a more direct citizen. participation. And: “Politicians need to deal with mistakes more honestly so that their actions become credible again.”
When Thorben Peping decided to run, he saw it as a kind of “party service” in view of the miserable poll numbers for the SPD ahead of the federal election. But he didn’t just want to sit, he wanted to actively shape it. After the elections to the Bundestag and the formation of the traffic light coalition, he can now very well imagine being actually elected to the state parliament and representing the constituency there. If it causes a stir on the inside, it certainly doesn’t carry it on the outside. It is not surprising that he appreciates the chancellor – and considers his “Hanseatic coolness and objectivity” as political virtues with a model character.