Governing Parties of Denmark and Bolivia Launch Partnership
13-19 April a delegation from the Governing party in Bolivia, MAS-IPSP, visited Denmark to meet with its new partner, the Danish Socialist Peoples’ Party. The visit included conflict-management activities and an important insight into the political engine room of the Danish Party.
By Dea Donkin, International Coordinator at SF, and Laue Biehl Nørgaard, Project Assistant at SF.
In December 2011 one of the three parties in the Danish Government Coalition, Socialistisk Folkeparti (the Socialist people’s Party – SF) and the governing party of Bolivia, MAS-IPSP, established a partnership project with a twofold objective: strengthening the organisational coherence in terms of mechanisms for handling internal disagreements, and consolidating the youth branch of the party.
Launch of Partnership
The project was launched 13 – 19 April when a delegation of 10 representatives from MAS visited Denmark to conduct the initial activities of the project. The delegation included a wide range of both party and governmental representatives: the newly elected party leadership, a vice minister of the government, leaders of the major social movements, regional representatives, and a youth representative.
During their stay in Denmark the delegation participated in the national party congress of SF in Kolding gaining an important insight into the organisational structures and political processes of SF. By taking part in extensive political debates and attending various voting sessions, the delegation got an insight into SF party democracy in practice.
During the congress, the MAS-delegation worked with SF delegates from all over Denmark in workshops dealing with local democracy, youth mobilization, women participation and relations between a governing party and social movements.
Mutual challenge: conflict management
Following the SF congress in Kolding the MAS-delegation conducted a two-day seminar dealing with the primary component of the partnership project: conflict management. As the largest elected force in Bolivia MAS-IPSP acts as a political instrument of the major social movements with a strong base in all social sectors of the Bolivian society.Yet, representing two thirds of the population the party faces a strong challenge in accommodating the broad spectrum of political, social and cultural interests, which the party represents. Thus, a lacking coordination and coherence between wide ranging interests has often paralysed the governance at both the national and regional levels.
The activities and practical training in conflict management conducted during the seminar in Copenhagen underlined a wide range of mutual challenges in terms of handling internal disagreements pertinent in both the Danish and the Bolivian context. Taking concrete examples of everyday dilemmas within SF and MAS-IPSP as a point of departure, the participants conducted dialogue exercises, discussed tools and methods for appreciative leadership and organisational structures for conflict management.
During their stay in Copenhagen the MAS-delegation also convened a meeting at DIPD, discussing the general strategy and multiparty objectives of the institute. A meeting that revealed a great need for multiparty support in the polarised and conflict-ridden political landscape of Bolivia and thus giving rise to great expectations for future partnership activities.