In connection with the Danish Parliamentary elections 15 September 2011, 11 Egyptian politicians, civil society – and media representatives visited Denmark to study and observe Danish Democracy in action. This page features information about the programme and participants, press coverage and materials developed in connection with the delegation.
The political system in Egypt is in a state of transition. Since the January 25 revolution and resignation of President of more than 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, the country has undergone constitutional and legislative changes fundamentally transforming political life. In November the first democratic parliamentary elections in Egypt awaits.
As a source of inspiration and platform for discussion, a group of representatives from political parties, civil society organisations and media in Egypt were invited to observe the political activities surrounding the Danish parliamentary election 15 September 2011. The delegation is part of the larger project entitled “Towards a dynamic and participatory political party environment”, which supports capacity building of political parties in Egypt. The delegation was undertaken in close cooperation with the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI).
See also: Project Description.
Of the 11 participants, 7 represented, predominantely newly established, political parties, three represented civil society organisations and 1 participant had a background a media. The group included:
The programme was divided into three parts to introduce the delegates to Danish Democracy in both theory and practice as well as give them the opportunity to discuss potential areas of inspiration for Egypt.
1. A seminar on Parties and Democracy
2. Stay in Local Communities
3. A Lessons Learned Seminar
Seminar on Parties and Democracy
The programme commenced with a two-day seminar on the Danish political system, including introductions to the parliamentary and electoral system by Lars Bille, Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, the political parties in Denmark by Karina Kosiara-Pedersen, also Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, and the role of media by Roger Buch, Research Director at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. Materials on Danish Democracy was provided to give an insight into the Danish Political system.
The Egyptian delegates also met with practitioners as Niels Kirkegaard, International Secretary for Venstre (the Liberal Party of Denmark), who introduced some of the campaign activities of the party, and Anne Paulin, vice president of the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) and active in the Danish Social Democratic Youth (DSU) for many years, who gave the delgates an insight into the role of youth and youth divisions during elections. Finally, member of parliament for Socialistisk Folkeparti (the Socialist People’s Party) at the time, Hanne Agersnap, shared her experience of life as member of parliament and gave the delegates a tour of the electoral focal point: the Danish Parliament ‘Folketinget’.
A much anticipated part of the delegation was the community visits: to get a sense of Danish democracy in action, the delegates visited different parts of the country such as Aalborg, Kolding, Vissenbjerg, Vedbæk, Rungsted, Roskilde and Copenhagen to experience the electoral events first hand. The delegates were hosted by members of the political parties to gain an insight into the political and practical aspects of political life in Denmark.
In Aalborg, Mary Mourad Sami Shenouda from the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, teamed up with Svend Petersen from Socialdemokraterne (the Social Democrats). The two-day schedule in Northern Jutland involved meetings with Members of parliament as Orla Hav, Rasmus Prehn and Flemming Møller Mortensen as well as a group of young Social Democracts. Her party colleague, Mohamed Moawad Elsayed Arafat, headed to Roskilde, where he was hosted by Marcel Maxen and Christian Kryger, both involved in the electoral campaign of Mette Gjerskov, also from Socialdemokraterne. The visit included a discussion on local democracy and citizen involvement with Mayor of Roskilde and member of Socialdemokraterne , Joy Mogensen, dinner with Parliamentary candidate for Socialdemokraterne, Mette Gjerskov, and visits to polling stations in Roskilde.
Eva Kjer Hansen, Member of Parliament for Venstre (the Liberal Party of Denmark) hosted Jaylan Khaled Abdelhamid Auf from Masr El horria Party for at two-day programme in Kolding. The stay included a visit to Mayor of Kolding, Jørn Pedersen from Venstre’s, office and a trip to Kolding International Gymnasium, where Jaylan discussed the democratic future of Egypt with the students.
At Fyn, member of Radikale Venstre (the Social-Liberal party) and DIPD board, Henning Nielsen, took Hossam Mamdouh Hassan Mostafa from Al Waiy Party on a tour of Vissenbjerg and Odense in election mode, where Hossam, among other things, observed an electoral debate at the library in Odense as well as the counting of votes in Vissenbjerg. Jørgen Poulsen, former member of the parliament for Radikale Venstre (the Socialist-Liberal Party) hosted a programme for Abdulrahman Hossam Abubakrelseddik ElShahat Abulezz from the Freedom and Justice party in Rungsted/ Hørsholm. During his stay, Abdulraham visited a polling station and met with the mayor of Hørsholm, Morten Slotved, from de Konservative (the Conservative party).
Mohamed Sami Zakaria Abdelsalam from Al-Adl Party visited member of Konservative (the Conservative People’s Party), Sven Herting in Trørød near Vedbæk and during his stay met with parliamentary candidate for de Konservative, Mette Abildgaard, visited city hall, and observed the election at a polling station at a local school in Vedbæk.
In Copenhagen, Yahia Mohammad Ramadan Saleh from Nazra for Feminists Studies Organization and also a member of the Socialist Party and Sherif AlaaEldin Abdelazim Attia from Mosharka Organisation were hosted by Jane Alrø Sørensen, member of DIPD board, and Sarah Zidan, both affilitated with Socialistisk Folkeparti (the Socialist People’s Party). During their stay, Yahia and Sherif visited the campaign office of leader of Socialistisk Folkeparti, Villy Søvndal, and felt the anticipation of the members of Socialistisk Folkeparti at TAP 2 on election night.
Hans Aalborg from Enhedslisten (the Red-Green Alliance) took Ahmed Hassan Haridy from Al Tayaar Al Masry Al Horr and Mina Mamdouh Mouris Gendy from Arabic Network for Human Rights Information on a tour of the left-wing election activities in Copenhagen. The programme included a visit to the party head office, polling stations and meeting with Member of Parliament for Enhedslisten, Line Barfod.
Finally, Mohamed El-Dessouky Roshdy El-Hagrasy from Youm7 Newspaper joined journalist Astrid Helene Washington and Photographer Thorkild Jensen on a tour to visit the community activities in Kolding, Roskilde and Rungsted.
Lessons Learned Seminar
A two-day lessions learned seminar was arranged to give the delegates an opportunity to discuss the political situation in Egypt at the backdrop of their experiences of Danish Democracy in theory and action. To answer questions of political life in Denmark and the 2011 election in particular, the delegates were joined by Jørgen Poulsen and Hanne Agersnap, former members of parliament for Radikale Venstre (the Social-Liberal Party) and Socialistisk Folkeparti (the Socialist People’s Party) respectively. The numerous themes and issues touched upon during the discussions included:
1. The Role of Youth – especially the important political role of party youth divisions
2. Decentralization – the presecence of political parties at local level.
3. Democratic Culture – the agreement on the rules of the game across the political party spectrum
4. Internal Democracy – the democratization of polititcal party structures
5. Role of Civil Society – interaction between political parties and interest organisation, e.g. the trade union.
6. International Cooperation – cooperation between national political parties and international divisions
7. Role of Media – the media’s coverage of political events and media strategy of political parties
Background Information on Egyptian Delegates (partly in Danish)
Press Release (Danish)
List of educational materials used during the visit.
Please visit our Flickr profile to view pictures from the Egyptian Delegation.
Demokratisk praktikophold 26 September 2011 Partnerskab for Dialog og Reform – Det Arabiske Initiativ
Abdul-Rahman tog temperaturen på demokratiet i Hørsholm (Danish) 21 September 2011 Lokalavisen
An Egyptian Social Democrat in Denmark 20 September 2011 Ahram Online
Egyptere lærer demokrati i Roskilde (Danish) 16 September 2011 Roskilde Avis
Elections in Egypt and the Danish elections – interview on TV2 News 15 September 2011 TV2 News
Valgobservatør fra Egypten følger valget i Vedbæk (Danish) 15 September 2011 Vedbæk.net
Ung observatør fra Egypten 15 September 2011 TVsyd
Egypter studerer valg 15 September 2011 TV2 Fyn
Election coverage from Aalborg about the Egyptian delegation The feature runs from 1.50 till 3.30. 14 September 2011 TV2/NORD
På opdagelse i demokrati 14 September 2011 Feature in Tv Koldings News program ‘Kvart Over’