We saw “JUST(e) vote!”, the interactive show where first-time voters are actors in the election… or not

These two debate in the studio of Talk-o-Clock, a fictional television talk show. The show is hosted by actor Nicolas Buysse, disguised as a clone of Cyril Hanouna. Even more populist, if that’s possible. Around the table too, the candidates from the Ecopop, BAC (Ball au Center) and Base Belgique parties, all inspired by our green, red, blue, orange or downright brown parties. In front of the giant screen, around a hundred teenagers from the Athénée Léon Lepage in Brussels and the Athénée Royal in Evere. Like hundreds of thousands of young Belgians aged 16 and over (for the European elections), they will vote for the first time in June 2024.

Young spectators can vote: listen to “Hymn to Joy” or Orelsan? ©EdA – Julien Rensonnet

It was this audience who, through successive questions asked, decided to watch the debate. A box allows spectators of this interactive experience to vote at each stage. In their journey, the young people could have chosen to treat themselves to an Orelsan clip, a cartoon or to review the program of each candidate. Sometimes it was very close for their political disinterest to prevail.

Vincent Hennebicq. ©EdA – Julien Rensonnet
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What interested me was to show that there is always a way to avoid politics.

“What interested me was to show that there is always a way to avoid politics,” says Vincent Hennebicq, director of this “JUST(e) Vote!”, to be seen this Saturday 18 May 2024 at the ChatBox festival in Brussels. “So the young people in the public today have not consulted the programs. So they found themselves voting without knowing anything about it.” Indeed, over the course of the show, they were initially convinced by the anti-rich speech of the imitation-PTB candidate. But it fell apart. The kets then fell back on the green candidate. “But behind his green poster hid a scoundrel,” squeaks Vincent Hennebicq. A nationalist who proposes leaving the EU and, undoubtedly more important for young people, the ban on 5G. “It shows them the importance of voting knowing the programs, because we are committing for 5 years.”

The show
Malak and Romaissa, students at Léon Lepage, appreciated the “JUST(e) Vote!” experience: it makes you want to debate with the candidates.” ©EdA – Julien Rensonnet
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The candidate with her blue blazer, she wants to stop immigration, she wants more security, she is super fascist.

In the front row, Malak and Romaissa, students at Léon Lepage, are enthusiastic about the experience. “It made me want to debate with the candidates too much. Some points in their programs are really exaggerated. It allows us to realize what the real parties are hiding.” In the viewfinder of young women, the far-right candidate, who demands “the end of sieve borders and the fight against Islamist gangrene”. “With her blue blazer, she wants to stop immigration, she wants more security, she is super fascist”. The people of Brussels did not appreciate the treatment towards the far-left candidate any more: “She is not respected during the show. She is seen as the feminist who understands nothing by the presenter. He wants to give her a kiss! But it happens like that in real life on TV: we would have said TPMP too much”. Well seen.

“Because of the Arabs”

The show
The false green candidate appealed to young people. But he hid his game well. ©EdA – Julien Rensonnet

To reinforce the broad strokes of mimicry, advertisements, fictitious or not, intersperse the show. Above all, we immerse ourselves in a pile of shocking, racist, hateful, anxiety-inducing, divisive images. “It allows us to introduce the themes of deep fake or the position taken by shows like TPMP,” confirms director Vincent Hennebicq. “It’s getting worse and worse, with shows that convey far-right ideas.” This is not lost on young people, as they proved in the debates with the hosts of Bruxelles Laïque after the screening. “These are shocking images to scare people,” say Malak and Romaissa, who are not being shown this. “Like on BFM TV. For them, everything is because of the Arabs.”

The show
The fake far-left candidate won the youth vote that day. But many spectators also abstained. ©EdA – Julien Rensonnet

What stands out to these first-time voters is obviously that “if you don’t take care of politics, they will take care of you”. Isam, also from the Athénée Léon Lepage, admits to being “in the dark” one month before the election. “They don’t explain all this to us at school. So clearly, this kind of animation which puts us in the bath should be used in the classrooms”. Which is entirely playable according to the hosting teams. Isam notes this: “We can see to what extent we can find ourselves in a minority and suffer the choices of others for 5 years. We must not only vote, but be aware of who we are voting for. I’m going to have to do some research into the programs,” admits the young man. The two friends in the front row already have an idea: “Clearly not for a conservative party!” Above all, they are delighted: “Before, we didn’t care. But now we participate. Our voice will count. Finally!”

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We can clearly see to what extent we can find ourselves in a minority and suffer the choices of others for 5 years.


ChatBox, by and for young people (only)

The ChatBox festival.
– ©Brussels Secular

Organized by and for young people aged 13 and over, the ChatBox festival takes place this May 18 and 19 at Reset, the old office building converted into a casco cultural venue just behind the cathedral. Already, the place is ultra-cool. It is in its surprisingly well-preserved audience that the kets can try their hand at democracy with “JUST(e) Vote!” Election year obliges, the “participatory and citizen” meeting plans other political moments such as a forum between young people, meetings with human rights activists from around the world, interviews with personalities or the writing of a multimedia mag combining journalism and performance. But fortunately, fun is also on the program with video game workshops, an escape game, boxing, break-dancing, battles, DJs, self-defense workshops, k-pop, a collective fresco and a final rap concert at the Cirque Royal. Best perhaps? Adults are prohibited from entering.

+“ChatBox”, these May 18 and 19 at Reset (rue de Ligne 8 in 1000 Brussels) and at the Cirque Royal, free between 13 and 19 years old (but upon registration here)

The show
The show “JUST(e) Vote!” by Vincent Hennebicq gives democracy benchmarks to first-time voters. It takes place in the form of an interactive experience during which young spectators vote to select the next step. An electoral debate pits fictitious candidates against each other in a parody of current broadcasts. ©EdA – Julien Rensonnet
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