Political parties are essential for democracy, they offer citizens meaningful choices and opportunities to mobilize behind different visions for their society. However, around the globe political parties are consistently ranked among the least trusted democratic institutions. While there are many reasons for this distrust, it does have some people wrongly asking if political parties are still necessary in today’s changing technological environment or if they’re a dying species of the 20th century. However, parties remain the only institutions that offer citizens meaningful choices in governance, avenues for political participation and opportunities to shape their country’s future. They therefore remain fundamental to the healthy functioning of democratic systems.
To address this disconnect between citizens and political parties, NDI's Political Parties team has launched this Party Renewal Initiative to discuss how parties can better adapt to the 21st century. Among other things, this initiative will take into consideration new ways for citizens to organize themselves and evaluate policy, new globalized economic and political structures, and the rise of anti-system parties in some established democracies. The initiative is structured in three phases:
An online blog, 21st Century Parties, where academics, and experts in the political party and party assistance fields are posting articles about various topics. This blog is open for comment, so we urge you to please add your voice to the conversation.
A conference in Europe, where we will build off of the online discussion by bringing together political party experts from around the globe. We hope that this conference will expand on the topics discussed on this blog and go one step further to outline a way forward for political parties.
A roadmap for political parties with suggestions on updated methods of organizing, communication and member engagement. This would outline recommendations that were based on the conversations at the conference and online.
The discussion — both online and at the conference — will revolve around different areas of party renewal as highlighted in our framing document, which can be found here. They include:
- Citizen relations,
- Ideology in the 21st century,
- Paying for democracy,
- Governing in a changing world, and
- Party assistance in the 21st century.
Again, we hope to include many points of view in this discussion, so please visit 21cparties.org to participate.