What is it?
In all countries in Europe, you will have elections. Campaigning in elections means working to elect a politician or party, standing as an electoral candidate in order to win political power, or even participating as a stunt to raise awareness of your issue.
YouTubers Max Fosh and Niko Omilana, did the latter during the London Mayor elections 2021. The stunt helped engage younger voters to register to take part in the elections, as well as tackled ageism by forcing the media to take young people seriously. For example, Niko finally obtained an interview with the BBC, that initially was ignoring him. Then he used it to prank them, but this is another story.
How do you do it?
If you want to support or campaign for a candidate or party, here are some tips…
- Talk to friends and family about why that individual deserves their vote
- Don’t preach to the converted and don’t put people off
- Get involved in more formal canvassing, such as door-knocking or leafleting
When your preferred candidate is successful, make sure you keep applying pressure on them to deliver your campaign aims.
If you want to stand up as a candidate, you will generally need to be backed by a political party and selected as their candidate.
Some people like Max and Niko don’t have a party behind them – they are independent. They attracted attention to their campaigns, by being fun, engaging, and sending out positive messages about voting and youth participation.
However, their primary profession is to be youtubers, so, they never had the real objective of being elected.
If you do not have the backing of a party, you should try to create an unusual story which is visible, eye-catching and also follows all the rules of campaigning. It will give you more visibility and attract the attention of the general public about the elections. You can use your electoral campaign to raise awareness of your cause, even if you don’t win.
Why and when should you use it?
The space for young people in representative politics is very limited.
This is firstly because of ageism, where there is a prejudice that young people are too inexperienced to be elected as politicians. However, some very young people get elected to Parliament – Mhairi Black was only 21 when she was elected to Westminster, Nadia Whittome was 23.
Secondly, the voting age in most countries is 18 years old. This means that the number of voters aged 18-25 is much smaller than in other age brackets which can make it hard for you to cut through.
Thirdly, political parties have their own internal culture when it comes to candidates which can make it difficult to emerge as a young candidate.
However, to participate in elections, even without the intention to be elected, can provide you a platform to disseminate your messages and inform people about your cause.
Make sure you plan to participate well in advance before the elections and get information at least a couple of years before the election kicks off on how to present your candidacy.
Works best in combination with: