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JOMPOPS – An Extended Political Family

This week DIPD’s country representative in Nepal, Shrishti Rana, is visiting the secretariat in Copenhagen. On the agenda for her Copenhagen-visit is, among others, exploring the possibility of future engagements of Danish political parties in Nepal. To kick-start the process Ms. Rana met with representatives from the Danish Socialist People’s Party, the Alternative Party and the Social-Liberal Party to reflect on Nepal’s recent political development, achievements and existing needs. DIPD currently has a programme in partnership with the multiparty platform JOMPOPS, consisting of the six largest parties in parliament, as well as a party-to-party programme between the Danish Alternative Party and Nepal’s Naya Shakti Party. The meeting aimed at reflecting on a more innovative and joint approach to DIPD’s work in Nepal, exploring how to engage more Danish parties and conjoining  the multiparty and party-to-party programmes to harvest potential synergies.  

Looking to Nepal for Inspiration
The political development in Nepal has been vast and fast-paced since DIPD and JOMPOPS entered into in partnership in 2012, with the aim of increasing the capacity of Nepalese political parties in order to consolidate multi-party democracy and enhance the effectiveness of the political system at all levels of society. The ambitious 2015-constitution has promoted democratic reforms, including a commitment to increasing female representation at all levels of politics – a commitment which was recently reflected in the first-phase local elections where a large number of female candidates were elected to office, including the election of a few female mayors and many deputy mayors. This result is considered a remarkable achievement for the overall representation of women in leadership positions, not just in the Nepalese context but in a global perspective. DIPD’s work with JOMPOPS is one of the institute’s first multiparty programmes, and Nepal’s evident commitment to deliver on key objectives like strengthening multiparty collaboration and increasing female representation, makes the country an inspiration for multiparty projects in other parts of the world.  Elaborating on some of the key results achieved in the DIPD-JOMPOPS partnership Ms. Rana says:

“One of the recent and very important achievements has been the empowering and training of women at local level prior to the local elections. It is enshrined in the Constitution that at least 40 percent of elected local officials must be women, and it has thus been important to train and capacitate female candidates. 20 percent of the women, who received training through JOMPOPS, were chosen as candidates, and 40 percent of these candidates got elected to office.

Besides DIPD’s engagement in JOMPOPS, the Danish Alternative Party has initiated a partnership with Nepal’s Naya Shakti Party in early 2016. The project seeks to contribute to the development of Nepal’s democracy by providing support towards strengthening the capabilities of the newly established party Naya Shakti, particularly with a focus on alternative means of communication that involve youth, women and minorities and creates transparent access to decision-making within the party.

During the meeting both Ms. Rana and representatives from the Alternative Party highlighted how DIPD’s multiparty programme can inform party-to-party partnerships, just like direct engagement between Danish and Nepalese parties can benefit the multiparty platform. There is thus important synergies to capitalize on, and the meeting raised the idea that all existing parties in JOMPOPS should have the opportunity to be part of a collaboration with a Danish party; maybe not in a classic “twinning” between ideologically like-minded parties but rather through innovative engagements moving beyond ideological affiliation, taking its point of departure in common thematic needs rather than party identity.

Beyond Twinning: An Extended Political Family
As the meeting went on and knowledge of the Nepalese political context was shared, ideas began to develop around a format where Danish parties, through DIPD, engages with Nepalese parties through JOMPOPS, in a set-up where parties engage, cooperate, contribute and benefit across political ideologies.  As Ms. Rana highlighted a number of relevant themes for Danish and Nepalese parties to engage on: “Definitely training in areas such as coalition building and multiparty culture, but also on how to engage and give voice to women and youth in politics.”

Based on an open courses approach, demand from the Nepalese parties could be matched with experiences and strengths of relevant Danish parties, establishing a cross political extended family, harvesting synergies between the multiparty and party-to-party engagements. As this meeting was set up as a first step to explore the possibility of establishing a more joint approach to DIPD’s work in Nepal, it will be interesting to see what these initial ideas materializes into.

More information
Visit our country page to read more about DIPD’s work in Nepal.
Contact DIPD Country Coordinator in Nepal, Shristi Rana: shrishti@dipd.org.np

Democracy celebrated at 7th People’s Meeting

For the 7th consecutive year, the island of Bornholm welcomed more than 25.000 daily visitors to Denmark’s biggest political festival. As always, DIPD participated in celebrating Danish democracy.

Each year, political parties, journalists, NGO’s and hundreds of other organisations gather in the small coastal town Allinge on the island of Bornholm to engage in four days of intense dialogue, debate and relation-building. More than 3.200 events were on offer during the 4-day festival, and DIPD once again did its part to celebrate Danish democracy.

Informal dialogue and intense debates

Even though the astonishing amount of events provided plenty of opportunities to discuss everything from the decreasing trust in politicians to the latest developments in medical rehabilitation (after a morning yoga session, but before singing worker’s songs with the trade unions), most would argue that what the People’s Meeting does best is to facilitate the informal dialogue between politicians and citizens. With the festival being an open and free event, everyone is welcome and the festival format allows you plenty of opportunities to have a chat with Ministers, MP’s and Mayors alike.

For DIPD, it was another aprreciated opportunity to catch up with the Danish political parties and discuss not only their international partnerships, but also the current developments on our own political scene.

But there was also time for DIPD director, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, to participate in a couple of larger events. The first of which took the form of a creative competition, where three different teams spend half a day working towards the best campaign idea ahead of the Danish Municipal Elections in November 2017 – an event which will be attended by a multitude of DIPD partners. Rasmus Helveg Petersen was part of the jury, which selected a campaign that looks to increase the voter turnout among young people come November.

Danish youth shares experiences

Generally, the role of youth in politics played a big role at this year’s People’s Meeting. The Danish youth parties participated in many debates on both national and international matters, on of which was organised by DIPD and long-time partner, The Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI). Stage and mic was given to four members of four different Danish youth politicians, who shared their experiences from the Danish-Egyptian Political Party Youth Network, where young Danish and Egyptian politicians gather for political dialogue and capacity development.

All in all, the People’s Meeting once again showcased that the openess and peacefulness of Danish Democracy is still a thing to be cherished.

More information

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

Annual Report 2016 – Parties must involve Youth

The DIPD Annual Report 2016 – Parties must involve Youth is now available for download. The 2016 Annual Report reflects how DIPD has continued to grow in its capacity to make a difference, while at the same time accepting that we are right now working in a very difficult global environment, where support for democracy is under pressure.

Chairman Henrik Bach Mortensen and Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen writes in the foreword:

“It is impossible to encapsulate global developments in 2016 in the area of DEMOCRACY in general and DEMOCRACY SUPPORT in particular in one word. However, it would not be an exaggeration to state that democracy came under pressure in most corners of the world.

In our own part of the world, we saw many examples of the traditional political parties being challenged by parties claiming that they represent the real needs and wishes of the ‘people’, versus the ‘elite’ protected by the traditional parties. In other parts of the world, many governments further strengthened the tendency to question the legitimacy and necessity of what we have so far considered to be universally agreed VALUES AND PRINCIPLES, like access to information, free and fair elections, accountability, and the rule of law.

These global trends have not affected the daily work of the institute in any dramatic manner, but they have certainly not made it any easier to operate in some of our partner countries. For the global democracy support community, it has been an opportunity to discuss the link between what we practise at home and what we advise our partners around the world to do.

Considering that DIPD has branded itself strongly on the best practices from our own country, it has naturally been an issue for debate when delegations visited Denmark. We have welcomed these debates, in line with our understanding that DIPD is a platform for MUTUAL SHARING AND LEARNING. The business of democracy support is a two-way street, not a business of exporting what we believe to be the best solution for others.

This line of thinking was also at the heart of a new partnership between the new Danish party ‘The Alternative’, which won seats in parliament for the first time in the 2015 election, and the new Nepali party called ‘New Force’, formed by people from the Maoist party. While very different in ideology, the two parties share a vision of DOING POLITICS DIFFERENTLY, meaning being more inclusive and less prescriptive, engaging youth and thinking out of the box, in an effort to respond to the criticism from voters all over the world.

Another example of breaking new ground was the cooperation between two Danish parties representing different ideological blocs in the party landscape, the Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party. Both parties have strong youth wings and believe in the importance of INVOLVING AND MOBILISING YOUTH for political participation. In coming together, they are sending a strong and important message to parties in Malawi about the need to involve youth, as well as the need for different political parties to work together peacefully.

Finally, in 2016 two regional programmes were added to the existing country-based programmes. One was regional cooperation on WOMEN IN POLITICS between Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, to upscale existing activities. Another was the Social Democrats working with partners in the Philippines, Nepal and Myanmar to STRENGTHEN POLICY DEVELOPMENT by sharing experiences. These approaches on the one hand allow the Danish partner to share Danish experiences, while at the same time allowing partners in the region to benefit from each other without interference from the Danes.

The results of these new dimensions will only materialise some years down the road. They were therefore not reflected in the findings from the THREE REVIEWS AND EVALUATIONS undertaken by external groups of consultants in 2016. One focusing on youth, commissioned by DIPD itself; one focusing on the programme in Myanmar, commissioned by the EU; and one with a focus on DIPD overall, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It will come as no surprise that we are happy to note that the overarching conclusion from the three reports combined is that DIPD IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK. The strategy approved by the Board in 2014 is a sound and useful platform for our activities. Partnerships have developed well and already offer results that benefit the partners.

However, we have also carefully noted the many constructive recommendations in the reports on how DIPD can deliver even more effectively in the future. Our preparation of programmes and the decision on which instruments should be used in each case can be improved, and we need to monitor the achievements of benchmarks even better. DIPD also needs to take a critical look at how we can STRENGTHEN OUR FOCUS and deliver more effectively in the areas, where we have the best expertise.

This will be important inputs to the process of implementing a revised strategy for DIPD, and this will be a key agenda in 2017.”

Read the full report here: Annual Report 2016

Informal Gathering of JOMPOPS Members

As the second phase of the local elections in Nepal has been scheduled for June 28, Steering Committee members of JOMPOPS are staying outside Kathmandu, preparing for the elections at local level. It has thus not been possible to organize a formal SC meeting of JOMPOPS, which on June 11, led the chair to hold an informal gathering of the JOMPOPS SC members to address the decision of Rashtriya Janata Party–Nepal to only participate in the elections if certain constitutional amendments, committed to by the NC-Maoist alliance, are delivered on. 

New Political Developments
As per the political agreement, Sher Bahadur Deuba, President of the Nepali Congress (NC) – the largest party in Parliament – was sworn in as the new prime minister on June 7, succeeding Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal from the Maoist party. This NC-led coalition government will be supported by the Maoist party which is the third largest in the Parliament and a group of smaller parties including the Madhes-based parties. Essentially, this government is supported by five JOMPOPS member parties, making the Unified Marxist Leninist party – the second largest party in the Parliament – the only JOMPOPS member party in the opposition.

The new prime minister has announced that the main priority of the government is to complete all three elections, including the second-phase of the local elections within the deadline of the new Constitution i.e. February 2018. The immediate priority is to complete the second-phase of the local elections in Province One, Two, Five, and Seven.

The key challenge to this objective is that one of the major Madhes-based parties, Rashtriya Janata Party–Nepal (RJP-N) has decided not to participate in the elections unless certain constitutional amendments, committed to by the NC-Maoist alliance, are delivered on. Earlier, the NC-Maoist alliance has been unable to pass the constitutional amendments due to its inability to garner a two-third majority in Parliament, required to pass the constitutional amendments. Other demands of the RJP-N, such as increasing the number of local units or allocation of its new election symbol, have neither been fulfilled by the alliance as committed.

To address this situation, the JOMPOPS Chair organized an informal SC meeting to explore various alternatives to ensure the participation of RJP-N in the local elections. All the JOMPOPS SC members are senior and influential leaders inside their respective parties. Hence, they can play a significant role in finding resolution of current political problems.

A Unique Avenue for Exploring Political Solutions
The chair started the meeting by congratulating Jeetendra Dev, who had recently become the Minister for Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation. The Chair said that JOMPOPS is delighted to have a minister among its members. Mr. Dev thanked the Chair and all the JOMPOPS members for their kind words and expressions of support, and said that he would endeavor to make JOMPOPS proud as a Minister. He also shared his political journey with other JOMPOPS members, emphasizing that patience is the key in politics.

Soon, discussions on the current political situation began. Most SC members expressed concern about RJP-N’s unwillingness to participate in the elections, which could lead two other Madhes- based parties – Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal and Nepal Loktantrik Forum – to also boycott the elections. It was made clear that it would be unfortunate for the country if such a situation was to pass. Hence, the members decided to explore various alternatives to ensure the elections with the broader participation of all the major political forces in the country.

The SC members agreed that it was useful to have such informal interactions on crucial political issues because JOMPOPS offers a unique avenue to the major political parties to come together and explore solutions to political challenges.

 

Available for Downloads: 2016 Annual Report on the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme

The 2016 annual report on the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme is now available online. Download the report to learn more about DIPD’s work on multiparty dialogue, women and youth in politics as well as the role of political parties and media in raising the public voice in Myanmar.

2016 was a remarkable year in Myanmar’s democratic development, defined by multiple political milestones in the wake of the 2015 parliamentary elections. The most notable was the peaceful handover of power from the Union Solidarity and Development Party to the National League for Democracy and the swearing in of the first elected civilian president. The new civilian administration inherited a country that has been struggling for a political solution to almost 70 years of armed conflict that has devastated the lives of minority communities and held back Myanmar as a whole. The first nationwide peace conference was held on 31 August with participation of nearly all armed groups as well as the government, military and political parties. Meanwhile 13 parties are represented in the national parliament, and the majority of seats are held by the governing party NLD.

In this setting, multiparty dialogue and cross-party cooperation is crucial in ensuring that all voices of society are included in the political processes determining the developments of Myanmar. Thus in 2016, DIPD in Myanmar stepped up its efforts to facilitate multiparty dialogue and cross-party cooperation on issues of joint concern. It has been promising to witness the political parties’ strong engagement in the dialogues on issues including natural resource revenue management, local elections, youth policy, and campaign finance reform. Results have been noticeable in the field of providing useful policy proposals to the municipal reform and the formulation of the national youth policy.

After the intense election campaign phase, the political parties are increasingly focusing on the other core functions of political parties and are now developing their party organisations and political policies in light of the new political dispensation. DIPD has responded to this by providing capacity building support in several fields, including training on media and public relations as well as on building the profiles of political parties as representative and accountable democratic institutions.

In 2016, DIPD enjoyed a strong partnership with the political parties in Myanmar and with the key national stakeholders in the electoral processes notably the UEC, civil society organisations and the media. Moreover, the continued collaboration with several international agencies was also important for our outreach and in particular the cooperation established in STEP Democracy supported by the EU.

More information

Read more about DIPD’s work in Myanmar, where we are part of the EU supported STEP Democracy Programme.

Contact DIPD’s Country Coordinator in Myanmar, Khin Thazin Myint: ktzm@dipd.dk

Contact DIPD’s Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen: hlm@dipd.dk