Wheel of power

Who makes the decisions in a democracy? [Guideline]

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Germany, Berlin



Für Lehrende: Je nach Entscheidungspfad können Situationen auftauchen, in denen Tod auf der Flucht explizit thematisiert wird. Obwohl dies nicht der Fokus der Story ist, bitten wir um einen sensiblen Umgang mit dem Thema im Unterricht. Beispielsweise kann auf die auf der nächsten Seite aufgeführten Hilfsangebote verwiesen werden.

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Ich habe die Informationen gelesen und verstanden

Someone knocks on the door, but before you can say “Come in,” your advisor storms into the office in long strides and sets up in front of your desk.

“Madam Chancellor!” he says breathlessly, “your statement at the press conference to phase out coal and nuclear power by 2025 is lunatic!”

Calm down

“This plan endangers Germany as a business hub!” he continues heatedly, “Renewable energies are far from being fully developed, we will become dependent on other foreign countries and lose jobs!

I ask you for the good of the economy to reconsider your decision!”

Stick to the plan, fire the consultant
Listen to the consultant
Germany, Berlin

3 years later

Crisis meeting of the cabinet – the second in three days.

The words of the Economics Minister waft through your head: recession, red figures, power cuts….

You have a headache. The biting criticism that has been hammering you for months has taken its toll on you.

Drink some water

Apparently, your advisor was right back then: the other countries didn’t follow your decision and continue to stick with nuclear power.

Your former advisor now works for a major energy company and is campaigning against you.

The fate of the workers who will lose their jobs as a result of the coal and nuclear phase-out led to a mainstream public discussion.

Ignore the short-term power outage

You sit in the dark across your ministers and feel miserable.

Federal election is coming up soon.

If this keeps up, your chances of winning the chancellorship again aren’t looking good.

Keep doing what you’re doing and hope that the criticism dies down
Reassure the public: Postpone coal phase-out by 5 years
Germany, Lausitz

Two months later

You find your notice of termination in the mailbox and you are seething with anger and disappointment.

Until the last minute, you had hoped to keep your job as an excavator driver in an open pit mine.

At over 50 years old, you will most likely never find a job again. Old-age poverty is preprogrammed.

Tear up your notice of termination

You want to show those up there who don’t give a damn about the fate of ordinary citizens.

So that they can save “the climate,” they accept that people like you will have to collect bottles in their old age.

But you don’t want to surrender without a fight.

Demonstrate for unconditional basic income
Vote for a party that puts an end to this nonsense
Germany, Lausitz

20 Years later

You walk slowly along the pebble beach and look out over the deep blue waters of the bathing lake.

It’s hard to believe the transformation the region has undergone since you introduced the unconditional basic income here 20 years ago.

Buy a falafel at the kiosk

All of Germany could see how people in the region also found their freedom and creativity again with the unconditional money.

The old opencast lignite mines became lakes, adventure playgrounds or museums.

And people do what they love: painting, baking, gardening, researching, writing books….

Smile with satisfaction

You’re proud that you had the courage to try the experiment back then. It was the best decision of your career.

The current government is now considering introducing the whole concept nationwide. You hope it will work out.

Finish story
Germany, Berlin

2 years later

You’re sitting in your office in Paul-Löbe House, honing the speech you’re about to give.

Many people mocked you when you were voted out of office.

The current government reversed all your reforms, but that didn’t make the situation any better.

Finish writing

4 valuable years lost.

The consequences of climate change are becoming increasingly noticeable. Once again, German farmers are suffering crop failures.

The chaos will continue for a while.

Leave office

Your chances are looking good in the next federal election, Your agenda includes items that even seem revolutionary: unconditional basic income, ecological tax reform, and a farewell to economic growth.

People support you because they want to see courageous decisions now.

Together, you think, we may yet be able to turn the tide. Then you enter the plenary hall.

Finish story
Germany, Berlin

7 years later

The decision at the time helped you to be re-elected, but it was a mistake in the long term.

The energy company is now bankrupt due to speculation on the stock market, plus the jobs lost in the solar industry, which you didn’t even consider at the time.

Your cell phone vibrates softly.

Look at your smartphone

It’s the president of Mauritania. You know what he wants and put your phone on airplane mode.

Negotiations with African countries are tougher than expected.

Because the expansion of renewables has been dragged on for years, the only chance for a successful “energy turnaround” is a strong cooperation with African countries.

Open the situation report from the German diplomats

The Africans are skilled negotiators.

They know that Europe needs the large sunny areas of the African continent to build highly efficient solar plants.

They demand to get most of the potential profits, while the countries of the global North should pay for the investments.


It does not go down well with the population to become dependent on foreign countries.

But energy has to come from somewhere.

The era of coal is over.

Agree to the conditions of the African states
Better to further expand renewables in Germany
Germany, Berlin

10 years later

Your last term in office is coming to an end.

You will go down in German history above all for your foresight, since cooperating with African countries was a sensible decision: power outages have become a rarity, as high-capacity power lines supply Europe with solar power from the African desert.

Look out of the window

Berlin is as “multicultural” as ever, but contrary to fears, it is not overrun by refugees.

With the money flowing into the North African states, the governments have managed to slowly develop their countries so that people see a perspective in their homeland.

There are still major problems with corruption, but as prosperity increases, people have time to engage with politics and demonstrate against grievances.

Leave the office

Time to get out of politics. You’ll move to Burkina Faso and see the country’s development with your own eyes.

You’ve seen enough of the lobbyists in gray suits who besiege you here every day.

Finish story
Germany, Berlin

10 years later

You’re standing in your allotment, harvesting zucchini and pumpkins with your grandchildren. This year’s harvest was not great because of the heat, but it will be enough for vegetable skewers.

For that, the solar panels on the roof provide enough electricity to cook, take hot showers and charge your tablet.

Wipe sweat from the brow

The expansion of renewables was slower than you thought, and in the end you were voted out.

You were labeled as a destroyer of the German economy and a recluse. Nevertheless, the successor government continued to pursue your course.

By now, the critical voices have fallen silent.

Sit down in the grass

Although the standard of living in Germany has fallen, people don’t seem to be unhappy.

While life in other countries is accelerating, there is a serenity here for which Germany is envied.

You’re not sure if you’ve done everything right. The prevailing idyllic atmosphere is deceptive. The attempt to be independent of other countries could fail miserably.

But for now, Germany seems like a little paradise removed from time.

Finish story
Germany, Berlin

8 years later

The scientist from the Institute for Climate Impact Research tries to speak in a calm voice, but you can see the hysteria in his eyes.

“You have to agree to these climate protection measures! The world is on the brink of disaster!”

Unfortunately, he’s right. Climate change is even more deadly than scientists have predicted.

Skim the DAX Corporations Report

Unfortunately, the climate protection measures proposed by the United Nations will also be a disaster for business.

Not having consistently pursued climate protection 10 years ago was a fatal mistake.

Now such drastic measures must be taken that the economy could grind to a halt.

Throw report in the trash

Corporations are threatening to leave for the U.S. and China, which both reject the climate protection program.

Scientists are urging you to approve the program. What to do?

Follow the science
Follow the economy
Germany, Berlin

1 year later

The representative from the auto industry enters your office.

“Our industry is in deep crisis,” she says. “Your decision for the climate protection program was already a big blow for us, but cutting subsidies for e-cars will deal us a death blow!”

She speaks for another 10 minutes and then says, “Please reconsider what you are doing! Think of all the jobs and technology we will lose to the Koreans!”

End the conversation

The look on her face reminds you of that of your development minister when he spoke to you after his trip to Africa.

“The situation there is almost unbearable. Climate change is turning entire regions into deserts. People are starving to death on the open roads. We have to invest in poverty reduction there, with huge sums, otherwise suffering will soon come knocking on our door!”

The national budget is limited. You have to make a choice.

Continue to subsidize e-cars
Use money from subsidies to fight poverty

5 years later

The images on your screen are hard to bear.

As chancellor, you’re one of the few who are still allowed to use digital devices without restriction.

Still, you’d prefer to turn off your laptop.

Take a closer look

Hundreds of thousands of electric cars sit on a huge concrete surface, waiting to be scrapped.

The industry has produced a lot of cars, but unfortunately, the technology to generate power has not advanced at the same pace.

Not enough electricity can be produced from renewable sources to power the cars.

The years of subsidies were ultimately just a waste of money.

View next image

An Italian sand beach piled high with the bodies of drowned refugees.

Every day new bodies are washed up. Nobody thinks about a beach vacation here anymore.

You shake your head.

The world has averted the collapse of the ecosystem for now, but it will keep paying the price for decades of ignoring the planet’s most pressing problems for a long time.

Finish story

3 years later

The world has just about turned the corner.

The USA and China have come to their senses after all other countries joined the climate protection program.

Not only has the auto industry in Germany gone to pieces, people around the world can no longer afford cars.

Take a breath

New sectors have emerged in their place.

The bicycle and sailing ship industries, for example.

The flow of refugees from Africa has also decreased somewhat since the EU started investing large sums in building sustainable infrastructure, education and local agriculture.

Think back

Today, you regret that you didn’t make bolder decisions 14 years ago.

It took the collapse of entire industries to make the world reflect.

If you could turn back time, would you choose differently?

Finish story

8 years later

Humanity has failed to stop climate change and continues to eat resources as if there was no tomorrow.

According to scientists, ecological systems have passed critical points that cannot be reversed.

The Arabian Peninsula and a third of the African Continent have become uninhabitable.

Look out of the window

These are your last days as chancellor, you long for the end.

Outrageous scenes are unfolding at Europe’s external borders. It seems to you that the other European countries have forgotten what human rights are. You want to take in the refugees, but that could cause even more people to leave their homes.

Germany alone cannot handle these masses.

Take in refugees
Close the borders
Germany, Berlin

10 years later

The geriatric nurse with Yemeni roots brings you your antidepressants and smiles encouragingly at you.

You don’t know what to feel.

Germany is no longer recognizable.

The state was completely overwhelmed with the many newcomers, society is still deeply divided. Distrust and xenophobia are rampant.

Swallow the medication

It could have been worse, that’s your only consolation.

Your decision to take in refugees has led to the fact that there is now a right to asylum for climate refugees.

Many people were impressed by your decision at the time, and global solidarity seems to be growing. This is also urgently needed.

Because climate change is not stopping.

Finish story
Germany, Lausitz

10 years later

Closing the borders changed nothing.

Even when states started shooting at refugees, it was already too late.

At some point, the masses of people overran “Fortress Europe” and the whole system collapsed.

Now chaos and devastation reign. A permanent state of war.

Close your eyes

You have entrenched yourself in a small hut on the edge of a former brown coal opencast area, marveling at the shortsightedness of humanity and waiting for the end.

Finish story

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