The challenges of taking on board political programming and measuring the impact of political party assistance were some of the key topics discussed at the two-day expert meeting on political party assistance hosted by Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy and International IDEA 22-23 June in the Hague.
How should support to political parties be – and not be – provided was the overall theme at the expert meeting on political party assistance, which touched upon issues such as the challenge of working within an inherently political field, the link between parties and parliament and the more operational side of planning and measuring the impact of assistance to political parties.
The two-day expert meeting took place within the so-called Effective Party Assistance Framework: a network of donors and assistance providers, including DIPD, that are involved in political party assistance. The network has since 2009 gathered in Stockholm, Wilton Park, Paris and now The Hague.
Day 1: Challenges to Political Party Assistance
Day 1 of the expert meeting focused, with International IDEA as lead anchor, on political party assistance. The IDEA report ‘The Challenges of Political Programming: International Assistance to Parties and Parliaments’ by Global Partners and Associates (GPA) served as a basis for discussing common challenges and goals.
The report was presented by GPA Director, Greg Power, who highlighted four challenges: translating strategy into in-country activity; the challenges when working within an inherently political field (‘political programming’), establishing (and measuring) politically realistic objectives and finally; integrating support to democratic institutions.
The subsequent group discussions focused on the question of ‘political programming’, that is, taking on board the task of designing programmes with political reform in mind, and link between parties and parliament.
Day 2: The Impact of Political Party Assistance
NIMD took the lead on 23 June, where the report ‘Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation for Political Party Assistance’ laid the ground for discussions on how to identity the goal and measure the impact of political party assistance.
Pepijn Gerrits (NIMD) started the discussion off with a presentation of the state of play of work on Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation (PME). Key points from the presentation include the need to focus on impact rather than just output, the importance of using the right indicators, and the need to distinguish between programme outcomes (short-term goal) and changes in political culture (long-term goal).
The following group sessions focused on the so-called conceptual frameworks, also known as “result frameworks” or “logical frameworks”, as a tool for monitoring and impact assessment of programmes.
Discussions touched upon the need for flexibility in conceptual frameworks, the importance of a clear definition of the audience and their needs & expectations, the challenge in translating a country specific framework into a global working framework and the balance between donor objectives and the needs of partners in the South. Also, the need for a ‘theory of change’ i.e. defining what change is needed to get to the desired goal, was identified as key basis for a monitoring and evaluation strategy. Finally, the choice of indicators and how to measure impact of programmes were discussed.
Follow-up: Between Now and Washington DC
At the end of day 2 participants agreed that a strong foundation for further cooperation had been build on Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation in the field of political party assistance. The group jointly decided upon the agenda ‘between now and Washington DC’ (meeting planned from 3-5 October 2011).
The following key issues were prioritized as tasks to move forward in a collaborative setting: the concept of a theory of change, a joint set of indicators, and sharing of results of studies that validate an intervention.
DIPD and International IDEA will for the next meeting in Washington in October 2011 propose follow up actions on the question of joint indicators.
For more information on the expert meeting, please see the attached reports with points of discussion and conclusions from the expert meeting.