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On 16 October 2013, EPD hosted the launch of the publication “Political Party Dialogue: A Facilitator’s Guide” at the Residence Palace in Brussels. EPD organised this event on behalf of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights (OCPHR), and with support from mediatEUr.

The aim of the Guide, published by NIMD, International IDEA and OCPHR, is to enable actors to “assess the general conditions for political party dialogues; build trust; convene and organise dialogues; set their goals and prepare their agenda, facilitate their smooth evolution through various stages; ensure meaningful results and; last but not least, foster the implementation of the understandings and agreements reached”.

The key objectives of the launch were to raise awareness of the relevance of political party dialogue (PPD) in political reform projects at country-level, and to commence with a policy dialogue on PPD among relevant stakeholders. The event brought together decision-makers from EU Institutions, political party assistance providers and practitioners, representatives from Honduras and Kenya and representatives from the NGO community. Within the EU context, the aim is to foster a better understanding of PPD that could allow for its enhanced integration into EU external democracy support policies and frameworks.

The event opened with some remarks of the publication given by Hans Bruning, Executive Director of NIMD, and by Andrew Bradley, Director of International IDEA. In the first part of the event Sam van der Staak, International IDEA, presented the “Political Party Dialogue: A Facilitator’s Guide”. The presentation was followed by a keynote speech from Jean-Louis Ville, Head of Unit for Governance, Democracy, Gender and Human Rights at DEVCO and two short interventions on PPD from a European Neighbourhood Policy and mediation and peace-building perspective. The discussion was moderated by Pepijn Gerrits, Director of Programmes of NIMD.

In the discussions that followed, it was stated that effective and inclusive dialogue between political parties is an essential element of democratic politics. Conflicts, inter-party strife and polarised relations between political parties can block a country’s development, while a basic level of trust and cooperation between political parties can pave the way for peace, stability and sustainable growth.

In order to create a constructive and lasting dialogue, facilitators need to use transparent and clear criteria to determine: when and where the discussion is taking place; whether it’s a formal or informal debate; who is participating in the process and so, ensuring inclusivity by creating gender balance and providing space for young people and minorities; a realistic implementation of the road map; how to tackle the role of civil society and media.

The second part of the event was dedicated to the analysis of two country case studies on Honduras, presented by Miguel Calix the NIMD representative in Honduras, and Kenya, presented by Njeri Kabeberi the Executive Director of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy-Kenya. The discussion was moderated by Nicolas Rougy, Executive Director of EPD, and by Bjarte Tora, Special Advisor to the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. The case studies illustrated specific aspects of the political party dialogue process such as the recurrent challenges dialogue facilitators face in these countries and also provided examples of ways to solve some of these obstacles. Further information on this can be found here in the PowerPoint presentations delivered on Honduras and Kenya.

For further information, refer to the IDEA’s Policy Brief.

For a detailed summary of the event, refer to this report.

Also, refer to the powerpoint presentation of the political party dialogue handbook.

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