In September 2017, Norway held a general election to select a new government. For the first time ever, Save the Children Norway designed a children’s election, hoping to reach out to 5,000 children between the age of 9 and 15 years. However, by election day, more than 60,000 had taken part in the election. A whooping result showing us how willing and eager children are to learn about politics and how much they want to be included. How did we make this happen?
A lot of planning went into the process of making a child friendly election. Each of the political parties, eight parties in total, agreed to making a one minute video explaining their viewpoints. They made a child friendly version of their political program as well as dancing in a music video about the election. Watch the video here.
We developed ten election talk shows which could be used in various topics at schools. This as a support for teachers when discussing the political process and encouraging children to develop their own viewpoints. We tried to highlight different parts of politics, in order to show the magnitude of how politics influence our lives. In the first election show, we proposed the question; What is democracy?, and explained how the power is divided in Norway. The second show explained how and why we have an election. Then we had the eight different videos featuring the leaders of each of the political parties explaining issues like the environment, school politics, immigration politics and other relevant issues. All the videos were posted on our website, on Facebook and on YouTube. At the end of each video, we encouraged children to vote online. The result made us all jump, and even though it was a hard set up, it was worth every minute of the journey.
The media result was also amazing with coverage in 47 different newspaper, 14 interviews on television and radio and 78 online articles on the Children’s Election. A total of 137 different hits over three weeks. To support publicity ahead of the children’s election weeks, SCN invited NRK (the biggest news agency in Norway) to film a school visit on the children’s election, and it was broadcast on the evening news. Watch it here. We were unsure about the reach and awareness, as it was hard to estimate how many parents, or teachers might have seen the campaign, but when voting opened huge numbers of children participated. Visits to SCN’s website increased 15 times between 21st August and 17th September.
A significant outcome of this campaign was citizen engagement and enhancing children’s voices, as well as media coverage. SCN found a mechanism for children and political parties to communicate, involving children in the political process, teachers to support citizenship and also proving that it is possible and fun for children to vote from an early age. We also believe that by presenting complicated politics in a child friendly way, we reached youth and younger voters as well, on matters which normally was complicated. This proved to us that we will continue to have elections for children each time there is a general or local elections.