Screenshot of the opening of the diploma with young candidates. Image credit: International IDEA
The launch of the Diploma Course on Parliamentary Governance (DGP)—an initiative undertaken by International IDEA in conjunction with the Higher Education Center of Cochabamba’s San Simón University (CESU-UMSS), and with the support of the Swedish Embassy—took place online in Bolivia, on Friday, 10 July 2020. The five-month Diploma Course is geared towards the young men and young women who are running for the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies in the upcoming 2020 general election, as well as those who ran in last year’s annulled election.
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The objective of the Diploma Course is to strengthen the expertise and skills of the 50 young participants in understanding the duties, powers, procedures and governance tools of the Plurinational Electoral Body (OEP), such that they can deliver a proper discharge of legislative duties, oversight, governance support, debate and interrelations with citizens. The programme guarantees ideological diversity and advances the practice of political dialogue.
During the event Mr Arturo Beltrán, representing the Swedish Embassy, referred to the importance of strengthening a democratic and an inclusive governance model, and to that end stated that the involvement of International IDEA is essential, underscoring the progress made in its work advancing the participation and integration of women and young people in the parliamentary body, both in quantitative as well as qualitative terms.
Mr Fernando Mayorga, the Director of CESU-UMSS, in turn highlighted the center’s teamwork with International IDEA and expressed that the Diploma Course guarantees a make-up that is diverse in terms of gender, generations, regions and ethnicity. He also added that Bolivia is experiencing a crisis in terms of political representation, with demands that challenge the foundations of democracy and question the efforts of representatives in their public duties. The health crisis and its consequences is a factor that has now been added to this situation, giving rise to a multidimensional crisis environment. Within this context, he called on young people to become stakeholders in a vision of modernity that reclaims values of liberty and equality, brings about social transformation, and fights against poverty, in keeping with civil rights.
Mr Mayorga acknowledged that the state has made some progress in modernity, but he believes there is still a deficit in terms of institutional democracy. Moreover, he addressed the participants noting that: “You will be the protagonists in this new phase of Bolivian democracy,” and underscored that “democracy must be deliberative in order to be productive, which means not only listening and acknowledging others, but leaving aside one’s reasoning, when persuaded by the reasoning of others.”
Towards the close of the event, Mr Alfonso Ferrufino, International IDEA’s Senior Adviser in Bolivia, expressed his gratitude to the Swedish delegation for its support and to CESU-UMSS for enabling progress in setting up greater skills provisions geared towards the youth, such that they can take on a role, as befits them, in these times of profound transformation.
“The work undertaken by International IDEA’s team has included the coordination of youth platforms, such that they achieve ever increasing levels of advocacy,” Mr Ferrufino advised while sharing his own lengthy experience of many years as a parliamentarian. “These institutions are being challenged across the world; however we have now been presented with an exceptional opportunity of shaping a critical mass of parliamentarians who can contribute to strengthening institutional democracy.” Moreover, he expressed that, “in order to help find solutions, the critical skills of new stakeholders, through new ideas and new paradigms, are now needed more than ever.”
Finally, Ms Carolina Floru, International IDEA’s Programme Officer, expressed her belief that Bolivia deserves male and female candidates who are prepared to contribute to building a better future for one’s parents, siblings, children and for all of its citizens.