The pandemic may affect democracy in a negative way, and therefore it is crucial that support to democracy continues despite the restrictions currently in place in different parts of the world.
The coronavirus impacts all Demo Finland’s programme countries. Our partner organisations in different countries are working remotely, following local instructions and recommendations. Some of the activities in our programme have been postponed, but many of the activities are taken online as the measures to combat the virus restrict organising meetings and events. Not all the political party actors and other participants have the possibility to use good internet connections, but where the necessary technology is in place, new ways of working have been developed.
In Tunisia, our partner Centre des Etudes Méditerranéennes et Internationales (CEMI) has organised dialogue meetings and trainings of the Tunisian School of Politics online successfully. Online activities have included trainings of parliamentary assistants, meetings of the interparty dialogue platform and a training of trainers for young party actors. At the meetings of the high level dialogue platform, representatives of 14 parties have discussed, among other things, the economic and social impact of the covid-19 situation and made recommendations to the government. Similarly, in Mozambique, our partner Instituto para Democracia Multipartidária (IMD) has facilitated discussion on the impact of the pandemic and national policies in combatting it.
Facilitating dialogue online has been tested in Zambia as well. The national multiparty forum of women politicians, supported by Demo Finland and our partner Zambia National Women’s Lobby, has had an online meeting for the first time, which was welcomed with enthusiasm by the participants. In Myanmar, the Myanmar School of Politics (MySoP), founded by Demo Finland and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), is currently preparing to move activities online. A virtual meeting has already been organised with the multiparty platform of the Shan State, and longer gatherings with the multiparty platform and with the MySoP alumni are scheduled for later in May.
Final impact of covid-19 situation remains to be seen
In addition to the meetings, our partners continue with other essential work, such as preparing training content and materials and sharing experiences between Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Zambia in order to develop a women’s caucus in Myanmar.
Some of the bigger events and trainings are postponed towards the end of the year, but some of the effects of the covid-19 situation remain to be seen. Of Demo Finland’s programme countries, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka had elections scheduled for this spring or summer. Both elections have been postponed and final dates have not yet been completely confirmed. Time of the elections will affect our work with political parties, and work plans will be updated when the exact dates are confirmed.