How do I interview a politician

Bundestag election 2013

There are various ways of contacting politicians. It is important that it is clear in advance what the aim is for a conversation or contact to be sought. It could be particularly interesting to interview local constituency candidates and young politicians. Instead of a personal conversation, chats or surveys can be carried out by e-mail or inquiries via social networks. Before elections, you should also keep your eyes open to see whether you are attending a public panel discussion or taking part in an open chat. Constituency candidates can, for example, also be visited at short notice at election campaign stands. The following guidelines provide helpful impulses for the preparation and implementation of such political contacts. Guide for young people on how to organize political communication during election campaign times

I. Why should young people seek contacts with politicians?

There are many good reasons for this. Twelve are mentioned here. In addition, consider for yourself why you should consider contact with politicians important.

Reasons for contact with the politicians
  1. because politicians are representatives of the democratic system.
  2. because politicians also work as youth politicians.
  3. because we want to bring the concerns of children and young people into politics.
  4. because we have a lot to say to politicians.
  5. because there are always problems in one's own work that politicians can (should) help to solve.
  6. because politicians decide on subsidies.
  7. because federal elections are just around the corner and we want to find out who we can vote for.
  8. because politicians only have a future if they win over young people.
  9. because the young people should be enabled to discuss political issues publicly and up-to-date.
  10. because politicians can tell us concretely how politics is made, how they have decided on factual issues and what their reasons are.
  11. because it's fun to finally give the politicians their opinions.
  12. because it is necessary to tell them the truth once. If we don't, who will?

II. What opportunities do you have as young people to establish contacts with politicians and to interfere in the election campaign?

1. First contact

Important for a good preparation of the contact:
  • Set topics
  • There has to be a hook for concrete contacts with politicians. Contacts for the sake of contacts don't get very far. So: "What is it about?", "What topics are on our agenda?" In order to classify the topics to be addressed and to underline their importance, an inventory and reference to the situation of children and young people on site in the constituency are required. What role does youth policy play in concrete policy?
  • Who should be invited? Not every politician is approachable and competent for our concerns. So who should be invited? Helpful questions: Who is involved in youth policy in our community / city / district?
  • What topics do the young people deal with? Which politician is competent and responsible in this area?
  • Who are the politicians of the constituency in the Bundestag?

2. Design and write a letter / e-mail

A first letter / e-mail could read: "Dear ..., on the occasion of the federal election, the youth group would like to talk to you about the main points of your political work and your relation to youth work in our community / to youth-relevant topics .

We suggest the following topics for the interview: 1. 2. 3. "... In the next few days we will try to call you to arrange an appointment. We have attached some material for your information. Best regards ... "

Important for writing is:
  • the naming of the topics
  • the mention of the occasion (it must be important)
  • the conversation must provide the politician with a space for profiling and presentation.
  • Who are the expected participants?
Call and make an appointment:

There should not be a long period of time between the first letter and the appointment by telephone. Otherwise, writing will be forgotten again. If you fail for the first time, you still have to follow up.

3. The conversation

One-on-one discussions with politicians are not a panel discussion. If you are interested in background information and precise factual statements, you should invite the politicians separately according to parties. In this way you also enable the guest to say things differently than in front of the political opponent. Every conversation has to be prepared. An important prerequisite for the preparation of the interview is the question of the purpose of this meeting with the politician. Does it serve the general maintenance of good relationships (political atmosphere and mood)? Or is it about making concrete political demands to the women or men in a profiled manner? To prepare it is essential:
  • to become sufficiently knowledgeable about the topics to be addressed;
  • always have the arguments to support and clarify the actual point of view to hand (figures and quotations always provide the plus points. Attention: check for correctness!); to formulate any requirements specifically and in writing; Weigh up possible counter-arguments and consider answers
. The following three points should be clarified before the interview:
  • Who is taking part in the conversation?
  • Who represents which topic? Not everyone can be equally great in every area. The assignment of tasks in terms of content also shows a certain profile.
  • Who is conducting the conversation? If the conversation is not to slide into level electoral skirmishes, a conversation leader is necessary. They must ensure that the topics addressed are dealt with and the questions asked are also answered.
  • The conversation must deal with the young people's questions as specifically as possible. It should be managed pragmatically and lead to a result. The guest should not be dismissed until concrete results are available, e.g. agreements have been made and further steps have been agreed and a possible new appointment has been agreed.
Postprocessing: If the contact is not to fizzle out, the conversation with the politician must be followed up and evaluated. For example, by creating a log:
  • Who took part in the conversation?
  • What content was discussed?
  • What specific agreements have been made?

4. Accompanying public relations

It is of no use if we keep our contacts, our points of view, our goals to ourselves. The public needs to be informed and educated. It is important to turn on the press, especially the local press. There are several options:
  • First, to give your own press releases to the newspaper. The text (verbatim quotations) should be discussed in outline beforehand in order to avoid misunderstandings. It is also advisable to take photos of those involved / the conversation.
  • second, report on the conversation on the school homepage / in the school newspaper
  • third, hold your own press conference, invite the local press to speak. Of course, the topics have to reveal a lot.
  • fourthly, conduct an interview with politicians and publish it in the local newspaper / radio

It is also important to provide the press with sufficient information material. Questions about the publication of the content of the conversation and the results should be discussed with the interviewees beforehand. What can be presented to the public when and how and where? (The question of why this can be made public and that not, must certainly play a role in the evaluation of the conversation.)

5. Candidate hearing

Aim: To get into conversation with the candidates of a party in a constituency, to gather information about their politics.

method: All constituency candidates or their representatives from the relevant parties should be invited to this hearing one after the other. You will receive a specific questionnaire with the invitation. The list of questions is also given to the participants in the candidate hearing so that they can check the answers of the politicians. The politicians should only answer the present or supplementary questions in a limited speaking time. If possible, there should be no discussion during the hearing in order to be able to compare and evaluate the statements of the politicians. The organizing group has previously informed itself about the basic program ideas of the respective parties from the relevant publications. The press should be informed in good time about such an event (possibly also publication of the questionnaire) and invited. The organizer can also use the opportunity to use posters, a wall of theses, a photo exhibition, a walking advertising pillar, etc. to provide information about their own goals. Logging the statements of the candidates is advantageous, on the one hand, to compare whether the candidates express themselves differently in front of different audiences and on different occasions, and, on the other hand, to be able to compare statements and actual politics during the election period.

6. Visiting a group to a candidate

Aim: To question a candidate extensively and intensively.

Method: The group has prepared a clear questionnaire and is careful that the survey does not turn into a non-binding chat. The survey is probably not intended to serve the general purpose of forming an opinion, but also to be publicized by the group in the press and other media. The public will be informed of the results of the discussion. Contents: freely selectable by the group. The group will, however, find out what priorities each candidate has in their work and prepare for them in a targeted manner. Location: The candidate's home or party office.

7. Attending election events

Aim: Attending elective events is an important addition to your own events. Election events with discussions also offer the opportunity to hold discussions with candidates in front of a large public.

Method: When entering the hall, the group distributes a leaflet to all visitors in which topics that are of particular interest to the group are dealt with. No speaker or candidate will be able to afford to ignore a leaflet distributed in this way. The purpose of the discussion is to get precise and unambiguous answers to the leaflet questions. It is advisable not only to have one person ask any additional questions that may be necessary. Rather, the group members should be distributed in the room and pass the balls to each other. If a question has been answered evasively or only halfway, the questioner does not immediately dig into it himself, but the additional question should come from a completely different corner of the room. One member of the group documents and writes down the answers so that after a while, statements from the election campaign can be presented next to the candidate who may then be elected. The strategically prepared visit to an election event requires a certain amount of expertise, but especially a high degree of self-confidence and good teamwork within the group.

Contents: Some of them are selectable by the group, but are also actually specified for the event by the candidates or the parties.

Place: The meeting rooms chosen by party leaderships.

8. POSU = special policy investigation

Aim: Obtain information about the candidates' political ideas.

Method: A questionnaire will be sent to the candidates, which will be published at the same time in the local press or in their own publications. The politicians are asked to answer these questions. The questionnaire should never contain more than 10 questions. The assessment of the answers takes place z. B. according to the criteria a) no reaction b) general answers (08/15) c) detailed answers Important aspects from the answers are published in the press or on leaflets or put up for discussion at our own events.

9. Letters to the editor

The group can contribute to the formation of public opinion through letters relating to party events, press conferences of politicians, own events, etc., or through letters relating to contributions in kind that affect the election campaign. The chances of being printed are greater, the more specifically and briefly the respective problem or contribution is commented on. Another member of the group should also sign.

10. Open letters

Open letters can be written to the candidates, e.g. with the request to take a position on certain goals of the youth. Furthermore, a questionnaire can be formulated through which the candidates are instructed to publicly deal with specific points.

11. General information for press work

The press should be invited in writing to events, campaigns, etc. in good time. It is even better to have a personal conversation with the responsible editor. Initial information should be provided, and the press should never be forgotten when greeting events. The group members should endeavor to write their own articles, draft opinions, and provide brief information. The invitation to the event should be published (write your own text, newspapers and broadcasters are more likely to accept reports if they are brief and precise). If the press makes incorrect statements or misrepresents connections, counter-notifications should be drawn up. The press is obliged to print these under certain conditions. It is advisable to personally give articles that you have written yourself to the responsible local editor and to discuss the text with him. Press conferences can be held on important occasions. The responsible editors of various newspapers are to be invited. A so-called "wash slip" should be drawn up for each event, providing answers to the most important questions. On this laundry slip it must also be clearly stated who is the organizer, contact person, etc. Contacts to local editorial offices and successful examples of cooperation between the press and school classes in political education can also be found here: or

Helpful materials can also be found in the area of ​​documentation methods
  • Prepare photo report
  • Write articles for the school newspaper
  • Write articles for the local newspaper
  • Produce a radio report
  • Design poster
  • Wall newspaper
  • Mobile phone as a "quick" documentation option (snapshots, videos, etc.)

Modified from: BDKJ NW (ed.): “It's our turn.” Young people interfere (jungle book). Working aid for the local election campaign in 1989. Düsseldorf: self-published in 1989, pp. 5-11.

Note: Further creative and exciting suggestions can be found in: “We are to be reckoned with.” BDKJ-PolitspieI 1990, BDKJ in the Archdiocese of Freiburg.