How to become a political candidate at 18? Chiara has been recently elected to Milan Municipio 5 council. Read her 10 tips on how to get to represent our generation in the institutions.
I started to ask myself what politics was at 16 but I’ve always seen it distant and unreachable. Now I’m 18 and I’ve been elected as district counselor (for Milan’s Municipio 5, where Bocconi is located). Here is my bizarre story to tell young people that politics is not something far away, on the contrary we can be part of it.
At first, I got involved in high school politics. I used to protest about issues like climate change. It’s easy for young students to get involved and march around the streets. When there were many of us, they talked about us on the news, but on Saturday everything seemed back to normal, and we went on with our lives.
The turning point, for me, has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike what happened in other countries, Italian schools were the last to open and the first to close according to contagious waves. While our parents were allowed to go back to work, we were kept in distance learning for months. At that moment it seemed clear to me that we didn’t have anyone representing us in the institutions. Adults could go back to work because there were people representing their interests. Nobody asked us what we were going through, what were our needs, especially from a psychological point of view.
I was a student representative at the time and with representatives from other schools we decided to organize a sit-in in front of the regional government. We worked hard, listening to a lot of students’ troubles, and trying to spread their voice. Following the lessons on the ground, in front of the regional government, we gradually gained the attention of the media. After some time, we were asked to write comments on Italian newspapers and have been heard by the Regional Council and by the Parliament.
I still think there is a lot to do to represent young people in the institutions, but we have realized that we can affect the decision-making process. We have learned something about political mobilization and some of us decided to go on, running for office at last October local elections. I’d like to share with you some tips about what I learned from this experience.
My 10 tips on how to become a political candidate at 18:
- A lot of young people want to change things. I’m sure there is something you want to change as well. Millions of students protested around the world denouncing climate change. You have to listen to other people and understand your shared needs.
- Try to deepen your understanding of the problem and organize assemblies involving the ones who are interested in solving the issue.
- Listen to others’ ideas and share yours with them. Young people have a lot of ideas and projects, sometimes they are just shy…try to help them share their issues and solutions.
- Present the issue to the people, try to find an original way to do it and eventually the media will help you.
- Find the contacts of the offices or institutions that are supposed to take care of the matter and talk to them.
- Let them understand that you are not alone and ask them questions that could help you adjust and learn what the main issue is and what is doable to solve it.
- Share your new findings with the others and elaborate a concrete solution with them.
- Tell your purpose to the people and spread it. Go back to the institutions and tell them the concrete solution you elaborated, demonstrating that it’s a shared purpose, making them feel a little pressure about it.
- They’ll eventually listen to you or maybe you’ll have to involve more people and look for experts that confirm your point or that could help you with the solution.
- Eventually you’ll like what you are doing, and you believe that you can help represent your generation that, in my opinion, currently is almost not represented. You must believe in what you are doing and speak up. The most difficult part is saying yes, at the beginning, and deciding to become a political candidate. After that, it’s all about passion.