A look at how UK elections work
Find out what it takes to get elected and learn skills that MPs need to be effective in Parliament.
Encourage girls in all sections to think about how Parliament, the government and politics affect their lives.
As well as encouraging girls to have their say in the political process, this activity also helps to build confidence at presenting and public speaking. Those same skills are required by MPs in order to be effective in Parliament.
What to do
- Get into small groups of three or four. Each group will become a ‘political party’. Give each party a number (for example, if you have five groups number each party from 1 to 5).
- Ask everyone to think about what they would do if they were put in charge of running the unit. In their parties they must discuss and come up with a list of promises of things that they would do if they were in charge. These can be as serious or as fun as they want them to be. Each party must write down at least five different promises. This list of promises is what they call in Parliament a ‘manifesto’.
- The parties will have ten minutes to prepare and then they must present these promises to the other parties.
- Each party must give a short two minute presentation to the rest of the parties, telling them their ideas and promises of what they would do if they were in charge. They must try to be persuasive and memorable because everyone will vote afterwards on which party they want in charge.
- When each party has given their presentation it’s time to vote. Give each person a ballot paper and explain that it is a secret ballot, meaning that they cannot discuss their vote with anyone – even their party.
- Each person should put an ‘x’ next to the party that she wants to vote for. Voting for your own party is not allowed. To make sure no one cheats the ballot papers could be printed on different coloured paper for each group to tell them apart.
- Each person folds up her ballot paper and drops it into the ballot box.
- When everyone has voted count the votes and declare the winner.
- Ask why people voted for that party? Was it the presentation style or the list of promises that made them choose that party? Why do they think it is important to have a secret ballot?
Try it this way
To shorten the activity, you could do a ‘hands up’ vote at the end. Ask the girls to all close their eyes so that it is a secret vote and to raise their hand when they hear the number of the party they want to vote for. Alternatively, put the numbers of each party in different corners of the room and ask the girls to go and stand next to the number of the party they want to vote for.
Take it further
This activity is taken from Girls Matter: Hear our voice. This resource has fun activities to develop how girls of all ages understand democracy and the part the play in the UK's decision-making processes.
Get the Girls Matter: Hear our voice resource from the Girlguiding online shop.
There are no specific safety notes. Have fun!
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How many adults are needed?
Use this calculator to find out the ratio of girls to adults that is required for this activity