“When we say ‘a better way’, we mainly mean ‘an easier and more fun way’”, Isa and Iris say in the first episode of KiesAdvies. They feel it is important that young people, too, make a well-informed decision when casting their votes, but they know from experience what it’s like to get lost in political jargon, election manifestos and election compasses. Isa and Iris wish to create a podcast for young people who may never have voted before and have never immersed themselves in politics. In a ‘cheerful but educational way’, they talk to other young people who have made an active decision to support a political party. Every episode will feature a different representative of the youth wing of a political party. “In this way we will allow you, election newbies, to cast your votes without any decision overload”, Iris and Isa tell their listeners in their podcast. The next elections for the Dutch Lower House are scheduled for Wednesday, 17 March.
Isa studies Molecular Medicine at the Erasmus MC. Iris is currently doing a Master’s degree in Global Management of Social Issues at Tilburg University, but has lived in Rotterdam all her life, just like Isa. They met at secondary school, and politics is a subject that is frequently discussed in their circle of friends. Iris is a more active participant in those discussions than Isa. “For the most recent elections, I wanted to immerse myself in the subject and read a lot. So I messaged you”, Isa says, pointing at Iris. After working her way through many articles and filling in several decision aids, she was confused rather than certain how to vote. The two students listened to several political podcasts, but didn’t understand much of the jargon. Isa, in particular, needed some help. So she called her friend Iris, who loves her politics, and this is how they came up with the idea for a podcast.
The two Rotterdam-based students did not have any experience in creating podcasts at the time, but they do love listening to them. When her sister was celebrating her birthday, Isa created a special episode featuring audio contributions by her friends. They then recorded the pilot episode of KiesAdvies using the same ‘crappy microphone’ bought for that purpose. Together Isa and Iris invited youth wings of political parties for interviews and came up with ideas for recurring segments. In ‘Who’s joining the party today’ the guest is given the opportunity to present himself or herself. In ‘The Snack Check’ the interviewee brings a snack that symbolises his or her party. And in the final segment, called ‘Party Pitch’, the interviewee is given 30 seconds to explain why students should vote for his or her party. “The idea of coming up with ideas for recurring segments alone made me want to start a podcast”, says Iris, laughing. “Those are often my favourite parts of podcasts.”
Unbiased discussion of politics
Since Isa and Iris wish to be unbiased when discussing politics, they will not exclude any parties from taking part in their podcasts. Even parties without a youth wing, like PVV, will be invited. “We hope someone young – in other words, someone our age who is a member of the party – will join us.”
The first interview, featuring Hielke Onnink, the president of the youth wing of the Christen Democratisch Appèl (CDA), is already available for listening. Hielke met Iris at her place to tell everyone about his party. “[We try to be] an all-inclusive party for everyone, and to find common ground in shared values”, he says in the podcast on his party. “We really are a centrist party.” What Iris and Isa found most notable after the conversation was that it hardly focused on Christianity, even though that is what they most associate the party with. “‘Not all our members are hardcore Christians,’ he said. But they do value health care and family matters,” says Iris. “Also, CDA favours the return of student grants [as opposed to student loans – ed.].” The interview even helped politically-conscious-but-not-politically-knowledgeable Iris properly get to know CDA.