The Politics Interest Group (POLIG) is currently one of the hottest groups in AEGEE. It has been founded just a few months ago, but every day its 486 members on Facebook are discussing new different current issues in Europe and the world. But that’s not all: POLIG is planning to create real thematic events in AEGEE, for example a regular Politics Academy as its trademark event. In short: the POLIG can serve as a catalyst to bring back more content to AEGEE. POLIG moderator İlknur Demir: “People have great discussions in some events and get super excited about it. However, they do not really create an outcome, or in basic terms, work for it later.” The POLIG is there to change it – and offers you a hand for collaboration. İlknur: “I am calling everyone who is reading this interview at the moment: even if you do not have an idea how to cooperate with POLIG, just ask us; the most unexpected ideas might be born as we talk to each other!”
Golden Times: You are the moderator of the new POLIG. How did that happen, what was your motivation?
İlknur Demir: I had various motives to apply for the establishment of such an interest group. Firstly, as I’m studying International Relations, I was constantly in the middle of political discussions, and I always wanted to discuss them with fellow AEGEEans; however it was not so clear to me where to share those questions. These questions were not only about current issues, I also wanted to talk about core philosophical issues that are related to politics. Secondly, the political discussions held during NWM Bilbao were so amazing that participants kept reflecting on them even after the event, during the dinner, while walking by the sea… I thought there could be a place where people could constantly discuss on these, not only during events. Lastly and sadly, I kept seeing people falling into the trap of populism; and I’ve been seeing a concerning number of AEGEEans with far-right ideas or strong nationalistic opinions. This made me question if we needed more discussions and the spreading of political science and social psychology knowledge, as we are living in the age of post-truth where facts are less visible.
GT: That’s a very good motivation. When was the POLIG founded?
İlknur: The group was officially established on 5th of May this year, yet we waited until the middle of August to announce it, as everyone was enjoying the sun more than politics.
GT: The POLIG has a very active Facebook group. How many people are members?
İlknur: Currently we have 486 members, though I believe we will have more in the future!
GT: What is discussed in the Facebook group?
İlknur: There are actually many different topics being discussed, but I can say that the Catalonia issue has occupied the group for a long time as there were clashing views among members. Other than that, the political dynamics in and out of AEGEE have been discussed more than three times, creating interesting outcomes!
GT: What are the expectations of the people in the Facebook group regarding the POLIG?
İlknur: There are many different expectations. Some see it as a great opportunity for internal education, and raising awareness; some expect more actions rather than words, and some are just enjoying the discussion for its sake. However, all of the expectations are trying to be covered, as an interest group has to be changed in accordance with the interest of its members. In conclusion, the main aim of all of us is bringing politics back to our political organization.
GT: What do you or the other members have in mind to increase the visibility of the POLIG in AEGEE?
İlknur: We have been slightly spamming the online channels of AEGEE, and we have shown ourselves during the Agora Catania, both on the stage and also with a workshop. I think the visibility could be increased by creating good content and organizing events; as an empty visibility will not favour any of our objectives.
GT: Do you also have a mailing list now?
İlknur: Currently we have been using this mailing list, which everyone is invited to join: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GT: Does AEGEE have a good discussion culture for politics-related discussions? Or does the association have to learn something in the fields?
İlknur: I cannot make a generalization for the whole association, however what I see is that, people have great discussions in some events, or even at a single workshop of one hour there are amazing ideas; but we just get a snap of inspiration then let it go. In other words, even though there are hot discussions during an event and people get super excited about it, they do not really create an outcome, or in basic terms, work for it later. Moreover, I believe we can all read more on political issues, rather than just following the news and trying to analyse them from the zero. When you do not get the main idea, the details only lead to bad problem-solving.
GT: The POLIG is in the footsteps of the legendary International Politics Working Group. Can you take inspiration of their work?
İlknur: Totally! After talking to former IPWG speaker Olivier Genkin during the Agora Catania, I could say that their work was amazingly inspiring. The old IPWG was highly active and prestigious, and of course it was not done overnight, so I am wishing the same for Politics Interest Group!
GT: Is the POLIG planning to organise local or international thematic events?
İlknur: AEGEE needs thematics, so we will be there working for it! Currently, we are in touch with some locals to help creating a good content for their local events; as well as we are in touch with other locals to create an international event! Months ago, we have collected the event ideas from our group members, and there have been ten concrete event ideas. Some of them are focused on the Eastern part of our network, whereas some others could be applied to anywhere! For example, we are planning to create a trademark event called Politics Academy, which we will try to organize continuously; each time on different focus at a different local. This event excites me the most, therefore let’s see if it is going to become real!
GT: Are you planning to organise annual excursions and tours to the court in The Hague like the IPWG or maybe to the European Parliament?
İlknur: If we can arrange it well, and if the people are interested; I cannot see any reason why not!
GT: Are you in contact with AEGEE oldies who are working professionally in politics related jobs, for example as members of parliament, in NGOs, at universities or thinktanks?
İlknur: We have been already collecting some contacts! However there has not been any active interaction between us yet.
GT: How could these people contribute?
İlknur: I think oldies can contribute a lot, by giving ideas that we have never thought of, maybe providing materials and some other things that they may have in mind. We are taking baby steps now, and those people who had already taken these steps could lighten up our way!
GT: Are you cooperating with other bodies or groups, such as the Election Observation Project or the SUCT?
İlknur: Currently we have close ties with the Eastern Partnership Project, and its members are quite active also in the Politics Interest Group. Other than that, we have been in touch with the European Citizenship Working Group, and we will try to collaborate more with the other bodies likewise. I would like to highlight that we are open to all kinds of cooperation. I am calling everyone who is reading this interview at the moment: even if you do not have an idea how to cooperate with POLIG, just ask us; the most unexpected ideas might be born as we talk to each other!
GT: What about a mascot for your interest group? Do you already have one?
İlknur: As we did not leave the abbreviation of Politics Interest Group as PIG, we wanted to gain everyone’s heart and get a pig mascot instead. Therefore, we are POLIG with a PIG mascot.
POLIG on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/poligaegee/