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Cooperating for a democratic future

In late November 2016, a cross-political delegation with representatives from the Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s party (SF) and their youth organizations travelled to Malawi to meet with the five parties represented in Malawi’s parliament. This is Vice-Chairman in SF Tonni Hansen’s report from the visit.

This article is written by Vice-Chairman in the Socialist People’s Party (SF) Tonni Hansen.

Being politically active has provided me with many joys and challenges. But that I might have been involved in the rewriting of a nation’s history, is something that I never imagined.

The Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Socialist People’s Party (SF) have joined forces to establish a democracy partnership in Malawi. It is one of the world’s poorest countries, with a democracy formed as recently as 1994.

From Denmark, Benedikte Ask Skotte (Liberal Party), Anders Bach Hellerøe (Liberal Youth), Anja Søndergaard (SF Youth) and Marianne Victor Hansen (project leader at SF) joined me on a trip to Malawi, where we had the chance to share how we have developed political youth organizations, and how closely the mother and youth parties now cooperate, while the youth still maintain control of their own political work.

SF Vice-Chairman Tonni Hansen sharing experiences in Malawi.

SF Vice-Chairman Tonni Hansen sharing experiences in Malawi.

In Malawi, we had the chance to meet all five parties represented in Parliament and their young members. We “grown-ups” shared how the Liberal Youth and SF Youth are organized and how they work. We shared how our mother parties approach the collaboration with the youth and the benefits we see in having strong and independent youth parties. Afterwards, the participants formed groups on which they shared challenges and worked together on suggestions for solutions. We finished the day with us “grown-ups” arranging a mock press conference, where we interviewed the party leaders on how they and their party leaderships will take action on the issues the youth had brought up during the day.

Considering that most of the participants are either born or raised in a dictatorship-like one-party system, it was fantastic to experience the commitment they show for developing their own democracy.

Anja Søndergaard (SF Youth) & Anders Bach Hellerøe (Liberal Youth) during visit to Malawi.

Anja Søndergaard (SF Youth) & Anders Bach Hellerøe (Liberal Youth) during visit to Malawi.

Malawi’s young politicians are highly impressive: they defy the structures, the history and their predefined prospects. They have both the will and the ability to form their own future, and they bear the impatience of youth.

After our 3-day “road show”, we were left encouraged by our meeting with the people of this friendly and accommodating country. On our last joint meeting with the party leaderships, we established a forward-looking dialogue on the importance of including youth in democracy.

On the last day of our visit, we participated in a “Youth Camp”, where the participants practiced writing party statutes.

The Liberal Party and the Socialist People's Party together with their partners in Malawi.

The Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party together with their partners in Malawi.

Every part of the visit went way beyond my expectations. We were told that we contributed to the rewriting of history in Malawi and that the five political parties’ youth organizations will be established within the next year with inspiration from the Danish experiences, we shared. The parties were so happy with our work, that they invited us back in August or September 2017, so they could show us their progress and we could continue our dialogue on how to involve youth in politics in Malawi.

Even though Malawi is far from Denmark, the wish for democracy is universal and therefor equally relevant wherever in the world you are. And even though Benedikte and Anders represented a different ideology than Anja and myself, we still had a fantastic trip in each other’s company, as we are all formed by a shared understanding of the value of a well-functioning democracy.

Tonni Hansen, Vice-Chairman, Socialist People’s Party

YOUTH WINGS: Working together to strengthen youth involvement.

YOUTH WING: Working together to strengthen youth involvement.

More information

Read more about the Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party’s ongoing partnership with CMD Malawi and the five political parties.

Contact project leader at SF, Marianne Victor Hansen: marianne.victor.hansen@ft.dk

Contact programme manager at the Liberal Party, Bent Nicolajsen: bn@dldp.dk

Contact Project Coordinator at DIPD, Mathias Parsbæk Skibdal: maps@dipd.dk

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