WFD’s newest approach to programming brings together our unique combination of parliamentary and political party expertise. In doing so, we offer beneficiaries a range of support distinct from that provided by other organisations.
The integrated programme concept combines the long-term relationships between political parties which WFD has fostered by building sister-party links with our parallel focus on addressing the effectiveness of parliament as a key democratic institution.
Our political party and parliamentary work will continue to form an important part of WFD’s programming, but by combining the two we can help share the British experience in framing a legislature which can handle the inherent conflicts between political parties – and function coherently and effectively as it does so.
In countries transitioning to democracy, the parliament is the critical arena in which citizens’ views on decisions around power, wealth, identity and ideology will be taken. How the interaction between political parties – and debates within them – are facilitated within parliament matters. A parliament becomes more effective when political parties operate better, and political parties can operate better when the parliament it seeks to influence is more effective.
So, to bring about this mutual strengthening, WFD’s integrated programmes provide a combination of non-partisan parliamentary strengthening, sister-party assistance and multi-party work which encourages compromise and negotiation. As always our mission is to support inclusive and effective governance by strengthening policy-making, accountability, representation and citizen participation.
By getting better at challenging the executive to provide alternative policies, or seek to amend or improve existing ones, parliaments and political parties can be expected to become increasingly important players in their country’s national life.
By committing to the pursuit of improved oversight, parties in parliament can get better at monitoring the performance of government institutions. Parliaments can support this by enhancing their ability to gather information which helps this scrutiny.
By reforming their internal processes to become increasingly representative institutions, political parties and parliaments will be able to reflect the citizenry in their make-up and promote their interests more reliably.
And by opening up their doors to marginalised groups like women, youth and others, parliaments and political parties will help make their work more inclusive and relevant to the lives of all.
Focusing on these outcomes matters because, when these functions are weak and ineffectual, democratic systems of governance wither. Ultimately, citizens who lose faith in the ability of the system which represents them begin looking for other ways to exercise power, often through violence.
When these functions are operating properly, however, a democracy can make executive institutions more responsive to citizens’ needs and help engage people with political and electoral processes.
WFD’s ambitious new integrated programmes seek to achieve this in a way different to that pursued by others. We understand that political parties and parliaments rely on each other for success. So WFD’s work supports this by bringing together the best of the British experience with encouragement of south-south experience-sharing among our networks and partners around the world.
Improving the capacity, legitimacy and influence of both parliaments and political parties can help contribute to our overall vision of the universal establishment of legitimate and effective multi-party representative democracy.