An Interview with Felix Werth of the German Party for Health Research

In most European countries, unlike the US, forming a single issue political party is an entirely viable approach to advocacy for a cause. It can work at any scale, even when starting with a few volunteers and a few hundred supporters. Examples of success and growth to the large scale include the various Green parties of the environmentalist movement, and the more recently established Pirate Party. The German Party for Health Research is a single issue party focused on raising awareness of work on the treatment of aging, and delivering greater support to that cause so as to speed up the clinical availability of therapies capable of slowing or reversing aging. These advocates have been active for a few years now, and continue their efforts even now.

What is the founding story and motivation behind the Party for Health Research?

In 2012 I learned that we have a chance to develop effective medicine against all diseases of old age in the near future. Because I think that this is so very important, I decided to make it to my life´s purpose to help with this development. The question I asked myself was, how I could most effectively do that. There are already non-profit organisations in this area, to which people can donate money to help this research directly and they do advocacy. I decided to also do advocacy, because in my opinion much more advocacy is needed. The more people know about this, the more support the movement will get. I decided to found a single-issue party with others, the German Party for Health Research (German name: Partei für Gesundheitsforschung).

The party is not only a very good way to do advocacy, but it also gives people an additional easy option, to support this cause by voting for the party in elections, by giving a support signature for the party's participation in the elections and by joining the party. One goal of our party is, that the big parties will also include our issue more into their program and they will probably only do that, if they would get votes for that. So the more votes we get the more likely it is. Unfortunately, our issue is ignored by most people, both by politicians and by the general public. Almost nobody actively demands more government investments in this field, e.g. there are no big demonstrations for more research against age-related diseases. By doing advocacy, we try to change that.

Why did you choose single-issue politics as the political action to follow in terms of battling aging-related diseases?

In my opinion, we need to educate much more scientists and have much more people doing research in this field to hasten the development of effective medicine against the diseases of old age significantly. All other political optimizations will not have the desired effect without this one. Our party only covers this one issue and no other issues. If a small party, who covers all issues, gets 2% and a big party gets 20%, the big party will have no reason to include the demands of the small party more into their program, because they would probably lose more votes than they would win. But if we manage to get 2% with our single issue, the big parties would have a very good reason to include our demand into their program, because almost nobody opposes more research against the diseases of old age, so they wouldn't lose any votes with that, only potentially win over some of our voters. With a single issue, everyone knows exactly, why people voted for us, and how extremely important our demand is for them.

What are the main points of your programme for the EU election?

We only have one point: We demand, that an additional 30 billion per year of the EU budget are invested into the development of effective medicine against the diseases of old age. To my knowledge at the moment only about 1 billion per year of the EU-budget are invested in the whole area of health research with no aim of the big parties yet to increase this amount significantly.

Link: http://longevitypolitics.global/interview-felix-werth/

Comments

I'll probably vote for one of those single issue parties this May. I don't like any of the current major parties for the EU elections. Sadly, it seems there is no equivalent party to the GPHR in Spain.

Posted by: Antonio at April 15th, 2019 6:27 AM

Oh, after reading the whole interview, I was mistaken: there IS a party like this in Spain! They don't say the name, but I will investigate.

Posted by: Antonio at April 15th, 2019 6:38 AM

A single issue political party is too alien for me to comprehend. It is a borderline oxymoron

Posted by: JohnD at April 15th, 2019 10:41 AM

@JohnD:

It went well for the greens. And, anyway, many Europeans don't care that much about EU politics, so many of them don't mind to vote for parties that they know will never win. National elections, OTOH, are a very different matter.

Posted by: Antonio at April 15th, 2019 11:34 AM

In the current political climate in Germany (where the two big parties in government are losing lots of votes) a single issue political party might become a junior partner if they're not too radical and get 5% of the votes. They might even change the course of politics with less than that. But until now the longevity community is much too small for that to happen. Maybe in 10 years or so.

Posted by: Matthias F at April 15th, 2019 12:02 PM

You can think of it as a project. If we go down the rabbit hole, at the end there should be an à la carte party which offers almost real-time voting to its constituents on a number of issues. And the politicians are basically managers of the said list.

Posted by: Cuberat at April 15th, 2019 12:46 PM

With public funding getting a bunch of research laboratories going and private companies working on specific grant contracts, it can also create the beginnings of a vast new industry.

Germany could be the world's center for anti-aging research if it so chose. And once an industry like that is established it can run for a very long time.

Posted by: aa3 at April 15th, 2019 9:33 PM

@aa3
This industry can run for as long as it is resolved 100% and becomes a commodity. Germany has an aging population, scientific potential and financial ability. But no mainstream acceptance.

Posted by: Cuberat at April 16th, 2019 5:27 AM

There are actually several one issue parties in Germany. For example there is a party only for universal basic income. I think there is a rule that if they achieve at least 0.5% of the votes they have a status where they get extra money from the state for their campaigning.

They say that they would form a coalition with any party except the AFD (the only German right wing party in the parliament). So it's longevity only if you have a certain political view. I would be happy if longevity comes without any ideological frameset.

Posted by: Christian at April 17th, 2019 5:00 AM

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