How do you encourage young first-time voters to actually cast their ballot? That was the pressing matter in the forerun of the local elections in Prilep, Macedonia. Young voters are either not familiar with party programs or they don’t match their expectations. In order to promote democratic values among youth, but also to let established parties know what young voters’ needs are, SEGA conducted an eParticipation project to meet this challenge.
The idea challenge module allows for a two-phase process: You can first collect ideas and then vote for the best idea. This way you can gather a multitude of ideas and then prioritise the most urgent matter or best idea for a solution. When you want to influence decision-making, it pays off to have a clear voice. Ranking the collected suggestions makes it easier for decision-makers to identify the core demands.
SEGA organised small online gatherings in order to discuss crucial topics: Youth activism and participation, education and sport, and ecology, culture and animal protection. The group discussions yielded results, which could then be fed into OPIN. Subsequently, other youth could back submitted ideas or add new ones. Combining online workshops or even face-to-face meetings with OPIN is a smart idea to create quality ideas. In addition, it was possible to invite representatives from parties to answer questions and give feedback to certain ideas right away.
Still, it can be hard to get participants on board of a platform they are not familiar with yet. One solution can be to offer introductory online workshops. In a video call, you can quickly show how to use the platform and explain the goals of the project. Combine these direct interactions with social media campaigns to maximise the impact of your project.
As the main result, young voters engaged in discussions with peers but also parties members and political representatives. The eParticipation project motivated them to share their ideas, which where collected in comprehensive document with recommendations. This was handed to the decision-makers on the local level and to the political parties. It helped them to create programs for the upcoming local elections 2021 according to the needs of the youth.