In Germany, 100-year-old Lisel Heise stands for election to the municipal elections in Kirchheimbolanden, a town of some eight thousand souls in the southwestern state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The spearhead of the Heise campaign, a former gym teacher, is the reopening of the local swimming pool.
The woman has been trying to challenge the closure of the old swimming pool in recent years but has noticed that, partly due to her age, she has been ignored in public debates on the case. “When I started speaking, they turned off the microphone, which forced me to stop. There was no point in continuing to talk,” says the old woman, who says she is often discriminated against or ignored because of her old age. But now that she has turned 100, that may change. “Now that I am one hundred, I am in a different position. I now have the opportunity to open my mouth and say something that I hope will be listened to.”
The elections take place on 26 May and, as a relatively well-known resident of ‘Kibo’, as the locals often call Kirchheimbolanden affectionately, they stand up for the ‘Wir für Kibo’ party, which campaigns for more sustainable development and more social awareness. “We are very happy with Lisel in our team,” says Helga Bürmann of Wir für Kibo. “She has given us extra publicity and that helps to spread our message.”
Heise especially hopes with her participation “to finally be able to do something for young people.”