Workshop 7: Civic agency and (party) politics

Civic Action27 Jul 2009The Broker


Annie van de Pas – The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD)Democracy Schools in Indonesia

  • There is a need for political knowledge and political skills on the local level. NIMD helped set up Democracy Schools that offer a one-year schooling curriculum to provide for this knowledge and these skills.
  • The goal is to grow a ‘crop’ of politicians and political activists for local governance. There are four pillars of participants: civil society, political society, media and business.
  • Citizens are empowered to define their own agenda. Locals are also involved in contextualising the curriculum to the local level.
  • Problems were encountered with measuring the improvement of skills of those enroled and the conversion of goals is slow. NIMD is working to improve this, but there are bigger challenges than that. Local governance is still weak.
  • Democracy School students and alumni set up local media to spread out.

Simon Kabanda – Citizen’s ForumSocial Contracts Campaign in Zambia

  • Responding to demands of citizens on the accountability of leaders. The law doesn’t outline what the tasks of leaders are, so accountability is low.
  • The social contracts make leaders accountable for the promises they make during election campaigns.
  • The result is successful: the electorate is empowered and is able to set the political agenda. The campaign encourages commitment, offers a reference point on political activity and enhances monitoring possibilities of citizens.
  • People are making the concept of the social contracts popular, so that it spreads fast.
  • Formed in 2004 with different people; business, politicians and civil society.
  • There is not much interaction between Citizen’s Forum and political parties, because both sides do not reach out to each other.Discussion
  • When discussing ‘what is CDC in these cases’, it was noticed there is a gap in the theory of CDC. How does the process of politics (in broad sense, including civil society and political interest in society) become politics (in narrow sense)?
  • Following this, it was discussed if empowerment alone is also CDC. Can CDC take place without external aid? People themselves can be the actors of change.
  • It seems in these cases something different than political parties and civil society is offered: making voices heard.
  • The participants agreed that local governance and citizens must somehow meet. These cases show a start to provide this space. However, it is not always clear who is the driver in these cases and there is still a lot of room for thought.


  • The gap between civil society and party politics can be bridged by involving everyone – including civil society, political society and businesses.


  • The idea that politicians need to be prepared so that you can ‘grow’ a ‘crop’ of leaders might be applicable to Zambia.