Political Party Youth Network
Young people in Egypt were important actors in the popular uprisings of January and February 2011 that led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak following which Egypt embarked on a process of democratic transition. However, the transition has in some ways been one step forward and two steps back. The youth is again politically marginalized and is not participating in political party politics in great numbers. Furthermore, they have failed to obtain influence in the formal decision-making processes in their political parties.
However, young politically active Egyptians continue to see themselves as agents of change in terms of being politicians capable of having a multiparty dialogue and thereby building trust beyond political differences. They need a safe space to engage in this multiparty dialogue, though. This is what we offer them.
Through the Political Party Youth Network, young Egyptian and Danish politicians have the chance to mirror themselves and their methods in each other. 2015 is an electoral year, both in Egypt and in Denmark. During the June parliamentary elections in Denmark, a delegation of young Egyptian politicians were invited to Denmark by their Danish counterparts, in order for them to observe and learn from the Danish parties. During 7 intense days, they followed parliamentary candidates from parties across the political spectrum in their campaigning activities, and discussed experiences and practices with the Danish youth parties. At the end of their visit, both the Danish and the Egyptian participants lauded the experience.
In October and November 2015, the Egyptians will head to the voting stations. While not all members of the network has found it viable, several members of the June delegation will now run for parliament in their local constituencies, undoubtedly with the Danish experience somewhere in the back of their mind.
Many new parties have emerged since the January 25 revolution of 2011, but few have managed to settle in to well-oiled political machineries ahead of the 2015 elections. Parties across the political spectrum is suffering from a lack of political leadership and widespread internal conflicts. Furthermore, the older parties have largely failed to absorb the young people, who sparked these popular uprisings. With the parliamentary elections just around corner and the maneuver space for political parties shrinking by the minute, most politically active young Egyptians remain marginalized in the process of democratic transition.
Through the Political Party Youth Network, we aim at inspiring both Danish and Egyptian participants to learn from each other’s methods, experiences and challenges, thereby building their political and democratic capacity. Furthermore, we apply a strategy of involving both the leadership and the youth level of the political parties. This is done in order to institutionalize the network in the involved parties, as well as creating a stronger link between youth and senior members of the political parties.
In addition to trainings and exchange of methods and experiences, the network also emphasizes cross-political dialogue. As such, the network also works as a dialogue forum, where members with different political and religious backgrounds can discuss openly and without prejudices.
Since the beginning of 2014, we have arranged international seminars in both Egypt and Denmark, and the network has really picked up pace in 2015, largely inspired by the parliamentary elections in the two countries. The activities will continue to be linked up to political events in Denmark and Egypt in order to connect the theoretical learning with practice.
Furthermore, it is an objective to make sure that there will be a concrete output for the political parties after each event. For example, a strategy paper for a local political campaign or methodology paper for developing policy programmes etc. Special focus will also be given to how the participating individuals can ensure that the learning elements are also integrated in their respective party organizations.
This project is carried out as a partnership between DIPD, Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI) and the Danish Youth Council (DUF). DEDI is an intergovernmental body with a strong dialogue mandate under the Danish Arab Partnership Programme (DAPP). DEDI’s core mandate is to promote political and cultural understanding between Denmark and Egypt and Europe and the Arab World. DUF is an umbrella organization for Danish youth organizations, working towards strengthening the role and voice of youth in society. Apart from its national commitment, DUF is engaged in international activities in South and Southeastern Europe as well as the Middle East and the in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Contact Mathias Parsbæk Skibdal, Project Coordinator at DIPD: firstname.lastname@example.org