Activist account: A behind-the-scenes look into the Bremen campaign

While we were unable to muster enough support to gain seats in Bremen parliament, MERA25 Germany made history on May 14, as Europe’s first international left-wing political party brought its radically progressive programme for the first time to voters in Germany. ‘Wolf’, a former US Marine Data Analyst, and passionate DiEM25 and MERA25 activist, provided a behind-the-scenes look into the strategy and effort that went into the campaign:

Before there was a campaign, there was the Bremen collective. The Bremen collective stepped up when there was an opportunity to run in state elections. When it was time to choose candidates, three brave members put up their hands, voluntarily accepting all the work, responsibility, scrutiny, and stress that comes with running an election campaign. It was the courage of these three that turned plans into reality, and the campaign was born. The first step was signature collection. In order to be on the ballot in Bremen, it is necessary to collect 500 signatures from Bremenites to legitimise the party.

The Bremen collective jumped into action, but the signature collection was already a tall order for such a small collective. Haste was paramount, as until the signatures were collected, the campaign couldn’t officially begin. The Bremen collective knew it needed help, so they lit the beacons and called for aid. The Dutch collective answered. Volunteers from the Netherlands came on their own time and dime to help with the collection of signatures, and with their help, and lots of hard work and long hours from the Bremen team, the signature threshold was reached, and then surpassed. The campaign could begin! Flyers, posters, shirts, stickers, and banners were ordered, and a slogan was chosen: For New Bremen Solidarity!

Running for the first time in a city that didn’t know of DiEM25 or MERA25, visibility was key. After collaboration with DiEM25’s political strategists and analysts, a campaign strategy was chosen, and key districts identified. MeRA25 would conduct symbolic and provocative performative actions in heavily trafficked public spaces, focus on districts that voted SPD, Green, or Left in the 2019 elections, appeal to voters aged 18-25, and run an ambitious social media campaign to maximise the chances of going viral.

The bell had rung, and MERA25 came out swinging in the first round. I went to Bremen for the first action weekend, and we attracted a lot of attention with our activist circle, projection action, and showing the water line in 100 years in front of parliament. Bremen was learning our name, and we kept the ball rolling covering our key districts in posters and stickers, and passing out hundreds of leaflets. If you’d like to read more about the first action weekend, click here.

Campaigning in the streets of Bremen, I could see Bremenites recognising Jan, and many young people would glance at the flyer I was handing them, smile, and say “I’m already voting for you, good luck!”. Our actions helped with visibility, but what really got our name and message out there was the Wahl-O-Mat, and our social media campaign.

The Wahl-O-Mat is a personality quiz for politics. The participant taking it answers a series of questions, and then is presented with a party suggestion, and can read easily digestible information about the various parties running in the election. Over 14,000 Bremenites outsourced their political research to the creators of this publicly funded app, and this was great for MERA25, because the Wahl-O-Mat put us on a much more level playing field with the major parties, where the party platform mattered, not the size of the campaign treasury.

Wahl-O-Mat exhibition in the Bremen public library

MERA25 also ran an ambitious social media campaign, sharing interviews with the candidates, and getting our provocative actions out there on the internet. Some highlights to check out are the kickoff announcementour first projection actionDusan’s hanging actionnein zu wohnopolyMay Day solidarityMeRA25 not MarsAnja’s warning, and last but not least, Scholz and Baerbock’s endorsement of MeRA25. A very nice montage is available here.

Despite all this ambition, effort, and creativity, we did not win seats in Bremen parliament. Where we go from here is onwards and upwards, we analyse the campaign and election results to identify opportunities to optimise our strategy and procedures, and we grow our movement so that we may build upon this campaign to win seats in the next election elsewhere. Our movement is strong, and international, and to quote the Bremen press release, “Born as a project by a handful of local activists, the MERA25 campaign grew into an inspiring movement that transcended borders. Dozens of DiEM25 members, representing over 12 nationalities, were on the streets in Bremen in support of MERA25 during this campaign, united under the slogan ‘For the New Bremen Solidarity’.”.

Stay tuned to the MERA25 and DiEM25 social media platforms to keep up to date with the latest movement news, read and participate in the DiEM25 forums, check out WolfsHub for my upcoming election analysis, and most importantly: get involved with your local DiEM collective. If there is none, found one, and if it’s not active, make it active. For guidance on this, see my interview with Jan and Thilo of the Bremen collective, and I’ll see you out there in the next campaign.

 

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