Understanding elections: step-by-step politics
I moved to Germany about 3 weeks ago, during the campaigns for the parliamentary elections, which was a really important time for German politics. I don’t always find it easy to understand politics, and it took a while to understand everything, but it was really worthwhile, so I thought I’d share the steps I took. They work for any country too!
5. Ask someone
I started off by asking people really simple questions. I asked my colleagues, but you can ask your politics/language teachers, parents, or friends. Ask questions such as:
- What kind of election is it?
- When are the results?
- What parties are running?
They’ll talk at the right level for you, and if you don’t understand something, this is the person to ask. I also found it interesting to ask people’s own opinions.
4. Find election guides online
The internet is full of information, and for every election, someone is bound to make a simple guide for you! I found the BBC website and YouTube were great for this. Short videos and timelines are the best, as they are very clear, and cover the basics of the election. Once you’ve found this and understood it, you could do more research online, depending on your interests.
3. Look at campaigns
I was lucky enough to be in the country where the election was happening – if you are too, just look around you! There will be billboards, posters, TV adverts everywhere. These are created by the parties, and carry their main message or key policies, so they’re clear and simple, plus the differences between the parties should be obvious. If you’re not in the country, do a search online for images and videos of these.
2. Use the news
TV or radio news is perfect for you – when introducing a new story, the newsreader gives a short summary, reminding you what it’s all about. You can even listen to interviews with politicians or experts. I found that it could be a bit fast though – I also tried newspapers, so I could read at my own pace.
1. Take notes
I did a lot of research, and learnt loads so writing down key vocabulary or ideas was vital. I could refer back to it later, to remind myself of things or check facts. It could even be helpful for the next election!