Dabbling in Model UN – UKIMUN US election simulation
Updated: Feb 5, 2020
A couple of weekends ago, I left Luxembourg and EU politics behind to take part in a Model United Nations (MUN) event at the University of Bath. It’s something that I had never tried before, and I was a little hesitant at first, given that I am not a confident public speaker and I’m not an expert on international relations! I decided to go for the crisis committee, which at this conference would be run by UKIMUN, a new(ish) company that organises Model UN events and has recently been working on a new concept for crisis committees – a US election simulation game.
The game I took part in was modelled on the 2000 US Election, with the Bush and Gore campaigns battling it out for the presidency. I was assigned to the Republican camp and took on the role of Press Secretary, hoping to get George Bush to the White House. We were a team of five, each with a different role and areas of responsibility: I had the last say about national or state ad campaigns. Each player has personal goals, which they can keep secret from their team – I needed our presidential and vice-presidential candidates to come out on top in the majority of debates or interviews, so I made sure they were well coached!
It is, basically, an extremely interactive board game: the aim is to use money and ‘political clout’ to win American voters over, and get the highest number of votes on election day. Every two hours, a month of the campaign passes by, and each team receives regular polling data from the UKIMUN team, influenced by its party’s performance. The UKIMUN team also process all the written instructions submitted by the players – State visits by the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, interviews, letters to potential endorsers. Money and clout can get you celebrity endorsements, headquarters, favourable press coverage – but nothing is certain, and, just like in real life, thinking outside the box and creativity can get you ahead of the game. Although the Republican campaign was built around our party’s ‘honesty’ (our cheesy but plausible slogan was ‘Honesty. Integrity. America.’), a few anonymous negative posters were leaked to media outlets that the Republican party happened to have ties with – the origin of the posters, of course, remains a mystery.
In the end, the Republicans beat the Democrats on election day; although we had started with a considerable lead, the gap was closing towards the end and we were all manically writing last minute press releases and doing interviews to edge ahead! You can find the final polling results and a detailed write up on the Ukimun website.
Most of the action took place over two days, and it was surprising how fast the time went! What appealed to me most was the freedom we had to choose our strategies and actions. Our team worked well together, with each person contributing ideas and chipping in. I had worried about my lack of MUN experience, but it wasn’t an issue; the UKIMUN team always made it clear that they were there to help and explain anything that wasn’t clear, and the basic structure of the game was easy to pick up. The use of technology is also very clever; a twitter feed, run by the UKIMUN team, keeps both teams up-to-date with developments, charting the campaigns from start to finish, complete with newspaper headlines and campaign posters.
So, I can now say that I’ve taken part in my first ever Model UN event! But for now, I’ll stick to translation rather than politics – and my language combination more or less counts out a career in the UN! 🙂