POLITICAL REPRESENTATION

Political representation is important to ensure that citizen needs and voices are represented at policy development and legislative promulgation. Moreover it gives citizens a process to hold the government to account for its decisions, performance and behaviour. These systems contribute to the strengthening of democratic practices and sustaining democratic values. Political institutions leadership and professional conduct can regulate and guide political representation, which is essential in creating systematic and sustainable standards for democratic representation and practices. Political representation is therefore not only important to ensure that citizens priorities are reflected in the political direction of a given nation, but it is also a powerful accountability tool.

Political Parties

Political parties play a vital role in strengthening democracies and are regarded as the vehicles for political engagement and representation. They offer an opportunity for citizens to participate in democratic processes and are essential for political representation, as they are the first line of engagement between the citizens and representative institutions. The Oslo Center contributes to the strengthening of political parties, and in turn the strengthening of democracies on various levels. When working with both the ruling, as well as the oppositional parties, we assist with the enhancement of internal structures and processes to bring inclusivity, transparency and accountability in decision-making processes.

Legal Frameworks

Legal frameworks, including international treaties, constitutions, and domestic laws, define the backbone of sustainable democracy. A well-developed legal framework strives to ensure equality, transparency, and accountability. These are all key components in the achievement of long-term peace and political stability. The Oslo Center assists in the development and revision of constitutions and laws regulating political parties and money in politics. Additionally, we assist in the process of operationalizing legislation through documentation such as regulations, guides, and handbooks.
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Legal Frameworks

Legal frameworks, including international treaties, constitutions, and domestic laws, define the backbone of sustainable democracy. A well-developed legal framework strives to ensure equality, transparency, and accountability. These are all key components in the achievement of long-term peace and political stability. The Oslo Center assists in the development and revision of constitutions and laws regulating political parties and money in politics. Additionally, we assist in the process of operationalizing legislation through documentation such as regulations, guides, and handbooks.

Political Institutions

Political institutions provide avenues for the representation of citizens, development of legislation, and implementation of laws and policy. They also conduct elections, contribute to the creation and protection of democratic spaces and providing room for citizen inclusion and engagement. In the case where political institutions are not fully functional, abuse of power, lack of representation, patronage and corruption are more likely to occur leading to bigger social and economic inequalities. The Oslo Center supports political institutions to strengthen democratic practices and processes through the enhancement of professionalism and accountability.

Projects

This project is a continuation of previous projects from 2018-2020 and is continuing to work with six Kenyan political parties on how to be more inclusive, responsive, transparent, and accountable. The project aims at strengthening the youth´s position in internal party decision-making and their influence on policies in elective offices. It focuses on how to include youth into party processes with a specific focus on how they can prepare and be successful in internal party nomination processes, how youth candidates can present relevant policy and campaign messages and prepare youth candidates for governing responsibilities if elected. To achieve the program goal, the project seeks to achieve the outcomes of strengthening youth participation in electoral processes, building youth capacity to be elected, and engaging youth in public to participate in elections and promotion of peace. Through training and supporting the youth in their capacity-building, political parties will achieve party members with motivation and skills to act as drivers for change within their own party structure. Additionally, the project will widen the democratic space for a system that is responsive to citizen needs, respecting their meaningful and inclusive participation, human rights, and human dignity.
The project seeks to enhance responsiveness, accountability, and transparency in Kenyan political institutions. A central focus in the project is strengthening Political Parties Country Elected Members groups responding to the needs of the citizens, including promoting accountability and transparency. Additionally, the Oslo Center assists in strengthening the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP). We are working with the ORPP to strengthen its structures and processes to better regulate political parties. Another central component of the project is its keen consideration of securing equal opportunities for women, men, and other special interest groups in political parties’ development. It has a strong perspective on the inclusion of women in decision-making in political parties, structures, and processes.
The Oslo Center worked with democratic governance support in Somalia from 2015-2018, which was funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Nairobi. The program focused on building the capacity among members of Parliament, aspiring political parties/associations, women, and youth on the multi-party democracy and role of political parties. The Oslo Centers works in Somalia contributed to the development of a Political Party Law, which was drafted by an ad-hoc committee in the Somali Parliament through a process where the ad-hoc committee engaged aspiring political parties, civil society, and the diaspora in the process. The Oslo Center also trained aspiring political parties on the role of political parties in a multi-party democratic system. Being without a function government and a democratic system for decades, capacity building on political parties and roles and responsibilities was identified as a critical contribution in building the democratic system in Somalia. 50% of the aspiring political parties engaged by the Finally, the Oslo Center worked with women and youth in aspiring political parties, Somali Parliament, and civil society to build capacity and provided platforms where women and youth could engage, identify challenges, and present solutions to decision-makers.
In cooperation with National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Oslo Center was supporting political parties in strengthening political processes and institutions. Exchanging information and experiences related to coalition and consensus building was one of the projects’ main tools. In the Oslo Center´s cooperation with NDI – a specific focus was given to providing the political parties with experiences related to coalition and consensus building from a Norwegian perspective. A lack of experience of coalition government represents a significant challenge to cooperation between the Ukrainian government and parliament to bring about orderly and predictable decisions. In that regard, the Oslo Center assisted leading MPs from the ruling coalition with information and consultation on cooperation and good decision-making mechanisms with a government coalition. A study visit to Oslo was arranged in January 2016 with 7 members of the Ukrainian parliament belonging to the ruling government coalition. The aim of the visit was for the MPs to get information from Norwegian political parties, members of parliament and leaders from the government on the operation of coalitions.
The Oslo Center’s work with political parties in Kenya through this project aimed to build more inclusive, responsive, transparent, and accountable party structures and processes. In this project, the Oslo Center has assisted political parties to strengthen national secretariats and youth participation in party operations. Party secretariats are vital organs in planning, implementing, and overseeing party processes. They link the national party office, branches, and other party organs. For the party secretariats to effectively and efficiently execute their mandate, political parties benefit from developing or reviewing structures and operationalization documents to guide the work of the national secretariats. The second component in this program aims at strengthening the active participation and contribution of the youth in party decision-making processes. The youth is an important component in the development and the future of political parties. With increased numbers of young elected leaders, political parties have an opportunity to further strengthen party youth structures and harness the youth’s potential for party development. Funded by Danida and the Danish Embassy in Nairobi through Uraia Trust

Key Areas of Impact

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• Political parties reviewed and strengthened their party structures and procedures.

• Published Coalitions – a guide for political parties.

• Mechanisms and procedures for consultations between party officials, its members and the party elected representative identified and/or strengthened.

• Mechanisms and procedures for consultations between elected representatives and the citizens established and/or strengthened.

Latest Updates

Annual Seminar 2021:

The Oslo Center’s Annual Seminar 2021 was funded by Bergesenstiftelsen

The Legacy of Democracies and Violation of Democratic Standards

In May, the Oslo Center hosted the webinar “The Legacy of Democracies and Violation of Democratic Standards”, to discuss the importance of democratic resilience, the threats encountered, and global collaboration. The event was moderated by the Norwegian journalist, Christian Borch. Among the participants were keynote speaker, former Prime Minister of UK, Gordon Brown, and the panelists, Executive Director of DIPD, Lisbeth Pilegaard, Senior Researcher at PRIO, Henrik Syse, Executive Director of the Oslo Center, Karolina Olofsson, and Minister of Climate at Environment of Norway, Espen Barth Eide.