ProDemos organises trainings for an international audience, with the aim of contributing to stronger democracies in other countries. These trainings are intended to help citizens beyond Dutch borders become more closely involved in local politics. The trainings are set up in close collaboration with national and local organisations.
Examples of trainings that have been organised by ProDemos in the past include:
- Find Your Way in Local Government
- Training in Bulgaria (for the School of Politics)
- Women’s participation in Turkey
- Strengthening Democracy in Georgia
Find Your Way in Local Government
In the Wegwijs op het Gemeentehuis (Know your way around Town Hall) project, a group of schoolchildren are invited to the town hall to work on project proposals for one day. At the end of the day, the pupils reach a joint decision regarding which project will actually be implemented within the municipality. The municipal authorities make funding available for this purpose. In 2006, ProDemos started working on the internationalisation of this method.
Working in collaboration with four partner organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Croatia and Romania, ProDemos has developed an exchange project. The aim of this project is to transfer the ‘Wegwijs’ method to the four partner organisations, so that it can be developed further and ProDemos can also learn from the insights and approaches of the countries in question.
From 15 to 19 May 2006, ProDemos organised a training week in the Netherlands, which was also attended by representatives of each of the partner organisations.
Training in Bulgaria
From 2008 to 2011, ProDemos organised a series of trainings dealing with democracy, political education and civic engagement in the School of Politics in Bulgaria that was named: ‘Training for Democracy’.
School of Politics
The School of Politics is a non-partisan organisation established in Sofia, Bulgaria. The School of Politics’ mission is to improve democratic processes, the rule of law and good governance in Bulgaria. The School achieves this by improving the expertise and democratic attitudes of the country’s political and civil leaders. It organises intensive courses and trainings for politicians, journalists, administrators and civil society organisations. ProDemos handled a number of these trainings so that the course participants could learn from ProDemos’ methods and experiences in the Netherlands.
Training for democracy was possible in part thanks to funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ MATRA programme.
Women in Turkey
From 2003 to 2006, ProDemos carried out a project in Turkey to promote the political participation of local women. The project focused on women in general, but took women’s organisations, other non-governmental organisations, political parties and government organisations as specific target audiences.
In 2003, ProDemos organised courses in five Turkish cities according to the ‘train the trainer’ model. These trainers subsequently held the course within their own organisations. The trainings and the course materials were developed in 2004 and made available in four Turkish cities to women who wished to become active in national politics. The same approach was taken in 2005, but in this case, the focus was on women aiming to gain a position in local politics.
In this project, ProDemos worked together with the Turkish women’s organisation KA.DER, a national (volunteer) organisation that aims to support women in their political participation. The members of Ka.der are all members of and active in a variety of Turkish political parties. Ka.der is a non-partisan organisation and has local departments in a number of cities. Ka.der presently utilises the knowledge and experience obtained in the project and the developed and tested materials in its School for Women in Politics.
The project was carried out in the context of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Maatschappelijke Transformatie (Social Transformation) programme (MATRA). The course materials were developed in partnership with the Political Science and International Relations department of Istanbul’s Marmara University.
Strengthening democracy in Georgia
A strong opposition is indispensable for a stable democracy. With this in mind, in 2008, ProDemos made a modest contribution to the further strengthening of political parties in Georgia. Together with the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) and its Georgian partner organisation Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD), ProDemos supported parties in developing their party manifestos in such a way that they were able to play a stronger role in the political debate.
The StemWijzer ‘reversed’
In Georgia, political parties were traditionally organised with a far stronger emphasis on leadership than on political programmes. Indeed, programmes only played a modest role in the election campaigns. In this project, ProDemos deployed the StemWijzer, but used an entirely different approach: during workshops with the six largest political parties in Georgia, 117 propositions were formulated, which were grouped according to a number of important themes in Georgian politics. The parties set to work on providing their answers to these propositions, accompanied by an explanation. This way, the parties made it clear to the Georgian electorate which values they represented. The workshop results yielded a solid foundation for the drafting of a party manifesto that could be used in the 2008 elections.