Political Parties, Participation and Representation
Assistance to political parties has, traditionally, been a small part of international efforts to support democracy and governance. Many have been weary of working directly with political parties out of fear of being perceived as interfering in domestic politics. Yet there is an increasing acknowledgement that the health of any democracy is often linked to the state of its political parties.
Political parties often form the missing link in democracy assistance as they allow large groups of citizens to participate in their society and be represented in democratic decision making.
International IDEA's work on political parties takes place under the framework of an institution-wide programme Political Parties, Participation and Representation.
The programme supports political parties and promotes gender equality, while focusing on four areas;
1. Party Finance: to improve regulation on party and candidate finance. 2. Programmatic Parties: to allow more political parties to develop policy platforms. 3. Effective party assistance: stronger alignment of approaches in party assistance. 4. Cooperation in competition: to seek consensus within the prevailing political culture of competition, through more effective interparty dialogue.
IDEA's global programme builds on its existing expertise in strengthening political parties and political systems. The recent revolutions in the Arab world have reinforced its intentions to expand its focus on political parties and to work more closely with parties at country level.
One priority will be to stimulate dialogue between political parties, for only when different parties work together to create change, will democratic reforms become lasting.
“Democracy and Gender Equality Roundtable", organized by International IDEA, in association with the UN Department of Political Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women, 4-5 May 2011, United Nations Headquarters, New York