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.