Approximately 73% of South Africa's inhabitants are under 39, forming the majority of voters in the country. According to statistics, 1.5 million South Africans are 18 or 19 years old. At the same time, this generation is considered less politically engaged – even apathetic. Some are simply frustrated about the ruling political class, about power struggles, cronyism, corruption, and the feeling that that nothing can be changed.
For this reason, young employees of LIVE Magazine, a popular online magazine in South Africa about politics, society, culture and careers created the VIP campaign (Vote is Power) in 2014. VIP allowed first-time voters to be informed on everything related to upcoming parliamentary elections in a way that was simple, precise, and understandable. Which candidates were standing for election? What were their objectives? Most importantly, what would they change if one party or the other should win?
Along with a website, online blog, google+ account and YouTube channel, other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook were actively employed. The language used was simple and informative, tailored to the younger target group. Two “national debates” took place, in which they were able to put the questions of young South Africans to politicians. Both debates were live-streamed and comments and questions could be sent in via Twitter and google+.
Altogether, over 10 million South Africans were reached by the campaign. According to information from the makers, 168,000 online and offline interactions were counted.
Following the election, the Live in Parliament format was developed, which places young journalists and bloggers at public parliamentary debates who report all events and decisions live. The intention is for young people to develop a sustained interest in politics and be excited for future elections.
We discovered this case through our Lab Around the World research trip.