Ready to represent? Here’s how to write an election manifesto

Standing in the OU Students Elections and not sure how to write a manifesto? Follow these tips to create something any candidate would be proud of.


Well done! You’ve taken the admirable first step of deciding to stand to represent your fellow students. What next? You need a magnificent manifesto to help the rest of the student body see why YOU should be elected. 

Here’s all you need to know, and all you need to do, to make sure your manifesto stands out.

What is a manifesto and why do I need one?

A manifesto is a document that explains why you are standing for a specific role, and why you would be the best candidate for the role. 

Manifestos are of great importance as they set expectations for students on what you are looking to achieve and are the first port of call for voters to compare each candidate’s ideas.

What should be in my manifesto?

Your manifesto is an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to potential voters, explain what your understanding is of the issues and challenges associated with the role you are standing for, and describe what actions you will take to address them.

  • Use SMART objectives to structure your manifesto, these are Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Relevant and Time-specific
  • Make sure your manifesto includes goals that are realistic and related to the role you are applying for.
  • Be clear and to the point. Keep your sentences short and easy to read so voters can take in the points you’re making quickly. 
  • Your manifesto should focus on the skills and ideas you have, not on other candidates. 
  • Utilise evidence to make your points strong and logical.
  • Use your creativity to make your manifesto engaging and interesting to read.
  • Ensure you spell check your manifesto before submitting it. 

Your manifesto doesn’t need to include your name and course – you’ll input these details into a form separately and they’ll sit alongside your manifsto as it is displayed. 

How do I get ideas?

The first step towards gathering ideas for your manifesto is deciding which role to run for. You can find role descriptions for each of the twenty-one different positions available on the Association website.

Once you know who you’re standing to represent, have a think about what needs improving for those students, or in that area of the Association. Maybe talk to some students and ask for their opinions, or have a look at what the last representative has already started work on. 

Image by Glenn Carstns-Peters on Unsplash

What should my manifesto look like?

The OU Students Association asks that manifestos be no longer than 250 words, and you’ll be submitting yours as plain text via a web form. This means that once uploaded to the website, everyone’s manifesto will look the same. As such, there can be no bullet points, highlights or sub-headings. We recommend that you write it on a word document and then paste it into the form. 

Can I see an example?

Yes you can! Below is an example manifesto for a fictitious candidate, running for office at The Dessert University Students Association.

Name: 
Strawberry Meringue

Course: 
Patisserie Arts 101

Running for: 
Vice President of Baked Goods

Manifesto: 

During my term as VP Baked Goods, it is my aim to improve access to cake for all students at The Dessert University. To do this, I will campaign for the university to open access to the kitchens 24/7 and make sure each student is allocated a quota of at least five cupcakes a week. I expect this to improve student satisfaction ratings and foster a better sense of community as everyone comes together to enjoy their cupcakes.

Further to this, I will run bi-weekly baking classes and provide easy recipes that all students can follow whatever their level of baking ability, or individual accessibility needs. To achieve this, I will work closely with the VP Cookbooks and VP Kitchen Equipment.

Building on the successes of the previous postholder, I will also continue to develop volunteering projects to bake products for a wider variety of dietary requirements. This time I will add homemade dog biscuits to the already expansive menu. 

During my time at The Dessert University, I have gained leadership, organisation and negotiation skills whilst volunteering as a meetup host at the Students Association. In my personal life, I have also run a number of successful charity bake sales. I will be a friendly and understanding presence on the Central Executive committee and will approach everything with a can-do attitude. 

As a keen baker with a track record of delivering 5* desserts, it would be my honour to oversee Baked Goods production at the Association.

Image by GLady on Unsplash

What next?

Read more informtation about the OU Students Association elections and nominate yourself to run for your dream position, then start work on your manifesto!


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Gabby Willis

Gabby is a member of the Students Association staff team.