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12. Workshops on multi-party dialogue
Purpose
To familiarise the participants with the multi-party approach used to broker consensus among political parties in complex contexts.
Rationale
Policy is inextricably linked to politics, so political parties will become, sooner or later, involved in any given policy reform. Due to their partisan nature and the confrontational dynamics that the electoral process imposes on them, their participation in policy dialogue processes is always very sensitive, as they very often lack the incentives to reach a compromise that may benefit their adversaries. In other words, in most cases, their engagement in dialogue is informed by electoral calculations and the kind of power games that can seriously jeopardize the trust dynamics championed by INSPIRED.
However, there are certain aspects in which politics can stop being perceived as a zero-sum game and improve the situation of all the parties involved. Departing from this assumption, the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) has a long track record in promoting cooperation among otherwise confronted political actors with views to achieving basic consensus on key issues for the quality of democracy and the country’s development. Such experience is extremely useful when tackling the political dimension implicit in any policy reform and ensuring that political parties either endorse the Roadmap for Reform resulting from the dialogue process –or at least commit to not boycotting it.
Outcomes
  • Political parties are strategically involved in the dialogue process (“strategically” meaning that they are prevented from co-opting it and alter its consensual spirit through partisan calculations).
  • Positions from political parties with regard to the policy at stake are reassessed and, in some cases, modified in line with the commitments resulting from the dialogue.
  • The policy reform at stake finds its way into the country’s political agenda.
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