To address root causes of endemic corruption that sparked massive protests in 2015 and strengthen a pillar of Guatemalan democracy, civil society organizations are working to make their country’s legislative branch of government more open, accountable and accessible to citizens. A significant step was taken in this regard on January 10, when the country’s Congress and a coalition of Guatemalan civic organizations publicly presented the Open Parliament Action Plan, a consensus roadmap for boosting internal and public transparency.
In the small coastal town of Montrouis, far from the bustle and parliamentary buildings of Port-au-Prince, Haitian senators gathered to jump start work on the nation’s challenges. The NDI-supported retreat, held from from March 3 to 5, focused on the 2017 legislative agenda. Senators from across the political spectrum engaged in passionate debate on pending issues and showed a readiness to work with the executive branch to meet the needs of the Haitian people.
Shahida Malka Ahmed was elected on November 19, 2015 as a union council chair in Khanewal District as part of the newly established local government system in Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province. Shahida’s victory stands out as fewer than 300 women competed for 50,000 directly elected seats in the 2015 local elections (and only 60 sought election as chair and vice chair).
Pakistan’s political parties are increasingly turning to social media to engage with the public on policy issues. Party activists from across the political spectrum produce original online content about pressing citizen concerns, using public opinion research to inform social media strategy and deploying new messaging and communication techniques to interact more effectively with citizens. Parties use these tools to develop more responsive policy proposals and create space for conversation and two-way exchange between citizens and party leaders.
Malawian civil society organizations are promoting local government accountability through advocacy campaigns to improve development and service delivery in rural communities. Through the creation of accountability clubs, small local networks consisting of community activists and ordinary citizens are responsible for identifying local needs and pressuring leaders to respond to citizens’ concerns. Among the issues many of these clubs have focused on is improving health service delivery in rural communities.
When Liberians go to the polls on October 10, they will see more women on the ballots. That is, if 138 “women’s leadership boot camp” graduates have anything to say about it.
Although in 2005 Liberians elected Africa’s first woman head of state, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, women continue to be underrepresented as voters, political party leaders and activists, and elected officials. Less than 10 percent of Liberia’s legislators are women, and nearly 10 percent fewer women than men were registered to vote in the last election.
Through its Innovation Network (Red Innovación) regional program, NDI is taking advantage of the impact and reach of new technologies to allow for the exchange of best practices between civil society and government across Latin America. From January 11 to 13, Red Innovación brought a group of 10 political leaders from 10 countries across the region together with Chilean politicians.
“The notion that there should be a dichotomy between our moral preferences and our strategic interests is a false one. Our ultimate foreign policy goal is a world that is secure, stable, humane, and safe, where the risk of war is minimal. Yet, the reality is that hotspots most likely to erupt into violence are found, for the most part, in areas of the world that are nondemocratic -- places that have been defined by the Defense Department as the ‘arc of instability.’ These are places that experience ethnic conflict and civil war; they generate refugee flows across borders; they are places where terrorists are harbored and illegal drugs are produced.”
When Cambodian voters cast their ballots in June 2017, local leaders will be chosen to represent their communities on the Commune Council. This election presents a rare chance to draw attention to local government, its unique challenges, and its accountability to citizens. Recognizing this opportunity, the Cambodian Civil Society Partnership (CCSP) launched its Civic Engagement in Democratic Development trainings, designed to strengthen collaboration between elected representatives and their constituencies.