In January 2015, the Carnegie Endowment’s Tom Carothers posed a choice to those supporting democracy internationally. They could opt to scale back, reducing risk and ambition. Or they could work harder, investing in learning and arguing more effectively for the benefits democracy brings. WFD is committed to the latter. We are investing in expanded research and policy work to inform and test our programme activities – improving WFD’s performance while sharing lessons and good practice with colleagues in the donor and democracy assistance community.

WFD’s unique mix of parliamentary and political party access enables us to look at parliaments from both an external and internal perspective. Our research portfolio has a broad remit to explore both how parliaments are shaping the broader democratic landscapes in their countries and how other democratic institutions and processes are shaping the ways parliament itself functions. This makes WFD a strong potential partner for academics and think-tanks whose interests span across traditional practitioner silos.

We are seeking to engage all those involved in democracy-strengthening in a conversation about what approaches offer the most promising prospects for lasting results. In the UK, we play a leading role in the Westminster Community of Practice, a network of the UK’s democracy assistance community which will raise the sector’s profile among donors. And we have begun an editorial partnership with the openDemocracy website, with the goal of fostering a debate around best practice among democracy experts around the world.

Our goal is for WFD to become an important source of knowledge and evidence at the intersection of policymakers and academics, with strong partnerships spanning both communities. We have a built-in determination to better understand the inherent challenges we face in strengthening parliaments and political parties, in order to help our staff and our beneficiaries to overcome those obstacles.