The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), DEMO Finland, and the Bulgarian School of Politics (BSoP) have teamed up with Tunisian NGO CEMI, Centre des Etudes Méditerranéennes et Internationales, to jointly found a ‘Tunisian School of Politics’ targeted at high-potential youth members of political parties, and to organise interparty dialogue and public political debates.
After three exploratory missions, of which two together with DEMO Finland, to assess the political situation and feasibility of starting a programme, NIMD planned a month long visit to Tunis from mid-November to mid-December to further explore possibilities for partnership with a local implementing partner organization, liaise with the Bulgarian School of Politics to discuss possibilities to merge comparable programme ambitions, and to work out and design programmatic objectives for 2012.
With the details of the international partnership agreement between the four organizations in development, design of the joint programme went ahead in more elaborate detail. The 2012 NIMD annual plan with its Tunisian partner and European partners will focus on:
- Interparty dialogue with political party leadership on the democratic reform agenda.
Focus will not be on the currently heavily internationally institutionally supported constitutional process on technical and principle level, but on regular legal democratic reform issues that will follow from the new constitution like: the electoral system law and political party (finance) law. These laws, being regular laws will cause more partisan discussion, since from their current elected positions political parties will have a an electoral and financial stake and direct self-interest in the outcome, potentially increasing the chance of political conflict still within the democratic transition phase.
- Founding a School of Politics for youth members of political parties.
This will be two pilots in 2012 of Two weekend meetings per month for six months including one international group trip. Training will focus on democratic values, knowledge and skills. It will be for fifty youth members nominated by the leadership of the nine parliamentary participating parties. The School will formulate criteria for candidates to which the parties must adhere: educational level, position in the party, under 35 year so age, gender balance and spread in regional representation. The group will be trained in multiparty settings with a lot of cross party interaction and group work. This to both improve their individual capacity in the short run, and to create an alumni network of a political community of potential future national leaders who will be able to find each other through personal contacts and be able to deal with each other within context of a democratic political culture.
- Public debates between political parties and civil society organisations.
As input and preparation for the development of political party election manifesto in the run up to the first regular parliamentary (and/or presidential) elections to be expected between late 2012 to mid 2013, we will organize a range of political debates with relevant civil society organizations. These debates will not be about democratic reform issues, but about national electoral political issue: health, education, economy, joblessness, socio-economic policy. Civil society organizations typical for each of these topics will be invited. Next to input for the political parties, it should give access for civil society to political decision-makers, as such fostering relationship between political parties and the rest of civil society on a practical and strategic level.