Interaction with European counterparts is an integrated part of the Tunisian School of Politics’ curriculum. The expertise of European politicians in the domains of local governance, multiparty democracy and political party management is highly recognised and appreciated among the TSoP participants.
Tunisia’s relations with Europe are traditionally very strong. The vicinity of Europe and the migration between the two shores of the Mediterranean make the European people an important economic and political partner of the Tunisian society.
With us in the past three seminars were political representatives from Finland and the Netherlands:
On 31 March, Kirsten Meijer, international secretary of the Dutch labor party PvdA, shared her ideas and expertise on multi-party politics in the Netherlands. The concise examples from current Dutch politics launched discussion and instigated the Tunisian youth politicians to comparisons with their national politics.
On her turn, Kaisa Penny elaborated on the ‘Finnish experience’, referring to the Finnish democratisation process after World War I as a comparison to the current state of play in Tunisia. In her position as the president of the European Youth Socialists (ECOSY) she received many questions about the role of youth within political parties and cooperation between the youth structures. The Belgian Thomas Maes, ECOSY secretary general, helped Kaisa in answering the TSoP participants and explained about the cooperation on the European level.
On the same date the Rule of Law was animated by French speaking Hildur Boldt, board member of TSoP partner Demo Finland and representative of the Finish SDP. Particularly interesting was Hildur’s attention for the aspects that cause a democratic deficit in Finland, which ensured the Tunisian politicians that every country faces problems of political representativeness and governance.
On 14 April the seminar on Administrative Reform was closed with a very lively interactive lecture by a specialist in the field, Marietje Schaake. Marietje is a member of the European Parliament for the Dutch liberal-democrats D66 and works on Digital Freedom and the concept of Open Government. Particularly relevant in Tunisia, where internet reaches large parts of the society and the Constituent Assembly foresees discussion about the use of internet to improve the Administration’s efficiency. The concise examples of the application of Open Gov in Europe and the US opened an interesting discussion with the TSoP participants.
Prospects for future cooperation
Besides other lectures from European guest speakers, the TSoP aims at connecting Tunisian youth politicians and their European counterparts by facilitating comparative exchange of experiences and best practices. These exchanges of ideas will be done both through internet-based dialogue cafes and online Skype conferences as well as by organising exchange visits to and from Tunisia.