Issues and Conflicts

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Issues, conflicts, what’s up?

Parties tend to know best what is necessary for the future. But unfortunately they often do not know what their surroundings are like at any given moment. In other words: they talk to themselves about their lengthy papers and their internal struggles but they often do not know or forget what matters most to their voters.

Voters will always punish you for such snobbish behaviour. If you want to move and motivate people, start where they are, not where you are.

Any German Green over 40 will tell you the following story: after the reunification of the two parts of Germany in 1990, national elections were held. The Green campaign focussed on climate change instead of the unification process. And the German Greens suffered an emphatic but deserved defeat. It took years for them to recover, but by then they had learnt the lesson.

To be effective, election campaigns need to be informed:
– What’s happening at the moment? What’s going on?
– What’s important for your voters now?
– What will be most important to them at the time of the election?

Elections are about choices. People have to choose between different philosophies, different programmes, different styles and different candidates. An election campaign provides support to the voter in the decision-making process. A campaign shows differences and makes it easier for voters to spot them.

Issues usually do not attract people simply because they exist. They mainly attract voters if they highlight the divergences between various organisations, governments, parties and candidates.

Green topics can often be found in highly conflictual areas. Use the conflict to gain attention. Form alliances around hot topics – alliances are temporary partnerships for certain themes: a recycling plant, a nuclear power plant, a new airport, a border conflict with a neighbouring country, and care for immigrants…

Before you start a campaign you should always invest time and money in research: What’s up in our country/state/municipality? What are people talking about? Listen! Only then will you be able to approach them where they are – and not just preach from the high Green rock on which you stand. Get as close to your constituency as you can and win the sympathy and respect that such an effort creates. You may not immediately win the next elections, but you will in the long run if you really care for people’s needs.

[Click here for Best Practice Examples]

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