Our Elections, Our Europe!

Published: 25 February 2014

Countries: Greece, Hungary, Italy

our_europe_smallXenophobic statements by politicians, racial discriminations by extreme-right groups, unfair representation of groups of different culture, nationalistic claims by Eurosceptic MEPs – all of these have been in the rise ahead of the elections for European Parliament in May 2014.

The Media Diversity Institute (MDI)’s new project, Our Elections, Our Europe!, funded by Open Society Foundations, brings together CSOs in Greece, Hungary and Italy, to engage young people around an issue that will be the key to the 2014 European Elections: migration and the importance of fighting xenophobic speech and promoting inclusive attitudes around this.

Within the project “Our Elections, Our Europe! – Engaging young people around the European elections to counter xenophobic speech, promote diverse viewpoints, and encourage inclusive attitudes”, the three European countries will monitor the media, keeping an eye on the xenophobic discourse coming from politicians and influential figures. We also interact with the public, asking them to spot and point out news stories of discrimination. The project  also runs a three-month media and social media campaign targeting young people, engaging them on their participation in the elections, promoting inclusive attitudes, diffusing positive stories about migration, and exposing the attitudes, misrepresentations and manipulation of xenophobic politicians through humour and drama. We counterattack by using our best resource: creativity.

In Italy, with the association Il Razzismo è una brutta storia, a social theatre group brings together young people from diverse backgrounds to produce short theatre performances (both street games and giant puppets mocking hate speech using satire) in public spaces.

In Hungary, with CivilMédia and the Center for Independent Journalism, the cartoonist Gábor Pápai produces satirical vignettes exposing lies pricking holes in negative rhetoric and ridiculous claims. His work goes along with street art, videos, and animated gifs by other Hungarian artists. When media monitoring in Hungary reveals any offensive or defamatory content against migrants that violates the Editors’ Forum’s code of ethics, CivilMédia will also submit an official complaint to the Forum requesting proceedings to be initiated.

In Greece, with the association Symbiosis, radio shows and videos bring together the views of both migrants and Greek-ethnicity residents of similar areas of the cities, to talk about the same topic, in each audio/video story. The audio stories will form part of the weekly radio show Symbiosis already manages on Thessaloniki Municipal Media.

Part of the project is also the dissemination, in print and online media, of stories that counter the claims and attitudes of xenophobic politicians. The strategy is to both make migrants the protagonists of stories of success and counter misinformation from politicians with real data and facts.

All this will be spread across through a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter by MDI, in English, and by partners, in their national languages. You can follow all the activities in the blog of the project Our Elections, Our Europe!