It is easy to complain about politicians – but have we really tried to influence their work? They are human beings just like us, they are open to criticism and often they can be convinced if one has better arguments and a winning way of conveying them.
It is our Christian duty to give a voice to Christian values which are so desperately needed in Europe. And it isn’t that complicated.
Next time you feel that something doesn’t sound quite right, write it down! When you see a politician say or do something good and courageous – drop him a line of thanks! If many of us Christians in Europe do this, we’ll experience a real ‘climate change’. Thank you for your commitment to a Christian Europe!
Your Europe for Christ! Team Vienna
PS: Don’t forget the daily Our Father for a Christian Europe!
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How to write a good letter to a politician
It is easy to sign a petition or forward a pre-formulated email. But it is a lot more efficient to write a personal letter to a politician.
Letters to politicians are among the most important tools of public engagement. It is easily done and highly effective. Voice your disagreement, but don’t forget to write when you agree or to thank for something good that was said or accomplished. A short letter saying “thank you for your courage in this vital issue; we are on your side” moves mountains and counts as an important voice in an internal party debate.
Here are the basic elements of a good letter to a politician:
I) Who to write to?
Sometimes you know very well who to write to, such as the one you heard speak about the issue. You might find their address by entering the name in a search engine or by looking for their institution online.
If your letter isn’t motivated by a specific person, think about which institution, which party you want to talk to. In their organisational structure, check who would be in charge either for you (local representatives) or of the issue (such as a committee in a parliament, or a unit in the government). Check online, or phone their information for a concrete name.
Usually, it is most efficient to write to a Member of Parliament (local, regional or national parliaments, most preferably the MP of your own constituency) as they might feel the greatest urge to deal with your issue. They fear any animosity against them, especially within their constituency, they hope for your support for re-election, and they are more independent from the immediate party leadership.
Additionally, it is good to write also to the party’s service department (they have different names but you will find them on the party’s website) and to all those people in a party who deal with voters’ motivation, volunteer recruitment and marketing & costumer relations.
As it is their job to respond, they are most likely to deal with your request or issue. In case of doubt, send your letter to several people, but mention in the letter also the other recipients.
- Captatio Benevolentiae:
Begin your letter with encouragements, praises or thanks. Politicians need that too – and it will open them up to the rest of your message. This is also important as the politician should get the impression that you might vote for him and that you are not so far from his party. He will most probably not really consider a completely “lost case”.
- Say clearly what you want:
If fitting, state what you know about the politician’s involvement with that issue. State why the issue is important to you. A personal story gives credibility. Be as concrete as possible in saying what you want from the politician. Mention for example that you voted for him or her expecting this or that… or that you will not vote for him or her or the party any more if…
- Argue successfully: Try to see the world with the politician’s eyes
Try to imagine the role of the one you write to. This person has to balance conflicting interests of different groups of voters as well as issues within the party structure and his office. Demand what is reasonable while upholding what is true and necessary.
Think carefully what arguments hold for that particular politician. Use common sense, experience and statistics. Normally, faith-based arguments are not helpful. In general, the intentions of law makers are good and not flawed on purpose. Be friendly and understanding.
A big mistake Christians sometimes make is the condemnation of those who suggest imperfect improvements. Praise the improvement, and only if necessary, focus on the imperfection. The particular politician might already have come a long way.
Also try to show both with examples but also emotionally that what you support is nothing extreme or far-fetched but that your quest is “a normal request of normal people.”
- For convincing arguments it might be good to find out facts
Statistics: Has there any relevant research been done which could support your case? Who has done what? What actions have been taken by the government? By the opposition and minor parties? By organisations who are passionate about the issue? Has the issue received any media attention? Any other interesting facts? Etc.
- Keep it short
If necessary, add supplement materials you refer to in the letter. You could write about several issues in one letter but it can be more effective to write a
separate letter on each issue.
- Don’t forget your name and address, also your profession might be good to mention
- Give a brief subject line mentioning the issue you are concerned with, if fitting also the solution you are looking for
- Use correct titles and correct salutation
- Make sure there are no typos in your letter
- Sign and date the letter
- Request a reply to your letter, which you should always receive regardless
IV) Reinforcements of your letter