In 2016, International IDEA will be starting its operations in the wider-Europe region. This strategic shift reflects the geopolitical developments of the past years, in which European democracies, both established and emerging, have been going through turbulent changes.
International IDEA has long been active in Europe. Some notable examples include our presence in the South Caucasus (2001-2005), and past citizen-led democracy assessment projects in Finland and the Netherlands. Its publications range from Developing Local Democracy in Kosovo (2005) to more recently the publication Illicit Networks and Politics in the Baltic States (2013).
The problems facing democracy in Europe today include low levels of public participation and support for political parties as well as massive protests demanding responsive and accountable government accords the continent. In the east, countries from Ukraine to Moldova are experiencing both large democratic challenges and rapid democratic reforms in response. In the established democracies of Central and Western Europe, large scale citizen protests and decreasing citizen participation through traditional institutions are questioning the legitimacy of once stable democratic processes. These changes have rapidly increased the demand for International IDEA’s support by actors across the wider-Europe region.
Starting in January, International IDEA will engage with a broad range of European actors to map the needs for supporting stronger democracies across the continent. While taking this step-by-step approach, activities will be undertaken in countries where democratic changes require IDEA’s assistance.
Current work includes the implementation of the Electoral Risk Management Tool in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Macedonia. International IDEA will also continue the work it began over the past months in Ukraine, including on public awareness raising on constitutional reform, political finance, and gender equality in politics. Country engagement will be coupled with regional exchanges on topics such as Money in Politics or Digital Innovation.
IDEA’s publications and databases, both classics and new ones, will be translated into languages that will allow Europe access to global democratic experiences. For all this, collaboration is key: International IDEA will work with its many partners around the world to deepen and expand cooperation across the wider-Europe region.