June 12-14, the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation organized two conferences with a total number of 60 women and youth from the opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Accra, the capital of Ghana. The topic of the conferences was campaign and communication and seminars offered both theoretical and practical exercises.

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June 8 -10, Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation arranged together with the Serbian party G17 PLUS the last conference in a serie of four. The previous conferences has been about topics as ideology, campaign, branding, EU-integration and now about politics on a national and local level. The speaker for this conference was Cecilia Brinck, MP, and Fredrik Saweståhl, Mayor of Tyresö municipality.

Saturday morning began with a session on “Principles Into Practice” led by Cecilia Brinck. She talked about how to combine the important ideological principles with both local and national politics. (more…)

May 25-27 a seminar was organized in Belgrade by the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation in cooperation with Demokratska Stranka Srbije (DSS)/Democratic Party of Serbia.

24 members of the youth wing were trained on ideology and policy making (Principles of a Free Society) by Patrik Strömer, Associate Director at Kreab Gavin Anderson, Clara Wahren, Advisor to Stockholm County Council CEO on Strategic International Affairs, Milos Aligrudic, Vice president of DSS and Former Vice chairman of the Council of Europe, Petar Ladjevic, Former Head of the State Agency for Human and Minority Rights and Aleksandar Popovic, Vice president of DSS. (more…)

May 24-27, youth politicians from Eastern Europe and Sweden met at Hotel Utsikten in Nynäshamn, Sweden, to discuss Principles for a Free Society. The 21 participants, representing center-right political parties in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova, discussed their countries’ and the regions’ challenges together with their Swedish counterparts. The conference was chaired by professor Nigel Ashford from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University in Washington DC. (more…)

To join the Council of Europe, a country must be both European and democratic, states European Stability Initiative (ESI) in the report Caviar Diplomacy – How Azerbaijan silenced the Council of Europe. In the report the struggle is made obvious between representatives of the parliamentary assembly (PACE) that are defending the state of Azerbaijan’s democracy and praising its elections in public, and those that are exceedingly critical about the state of democracy in Azerbaijan.

The two opposing camps don’t seem to describe the same incidents:

Michael Hancock, Liberal Democrat from Great Britain in a debate in PACE, January 2011, who had also been in Baku, praised the elections and the work done by Wille and Iwinski: “I was proud to be at the [2010] elections in Azerbaijan. The best you can say about any election in any country – in Europe, or anywhere else in the world – is that on the day following the election, the majority of people have the result that the majority want”. About the same elections Audrey Glover, Head of the OSCE-ODHIR Election Observation Mission to Azerbaijan, stated that “regrettably, our observation of the overall process shows that the conditions necessary for a meaningful democratic election were not established.”

Following the 2010 election, 19 civil society organizations in Azerbaijan sent a petition to PACE and the OSCE parliamentary assembly saying that Grossruck’s and Wille’s statements, had “caused deep regret and concern.”

Paul Wille told journalists that the elections were “mostly in line with our own … standards and commitments.” He praised the “positive environment,” the efficiency and transparency of electoral administration, “impressive voter education campaign,” the lack of violence, and the technical aspects of the election organization. Wolfgang Grossruck, at the same press conference in Baku, praised the cooperation of the authorities. He described Azerbaijan as a “beautiful” country. He added, almost apologetically, that “it would be surprising not to detect shortcomings.” He explained that “when we criticize the conduct of these elections this does not mean that we have not seen the many efforts the authorities have made in the many areas in which the country does well.” He then read the passage about these elections “not constituting non-meaningful progress.”

The authors of the petition insisted on obtaining an explanation of the methodology applied by PACE and OSCE PA observers. They never received a response.

Read the full report

On 11 -13 of May Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation arranged a conference in Sarajevo in co-operation with PDP, one of the two Bosnian parties that the foundation works with. The participants were young candidates and campaign managers and the focus was on preparing for the local elections in October. The speaker was Oscar Öholm, MP, Kristoffer Tamsons, senior consultant at Hallvarsson & Halvarsson and Sebastian Tham, press secretary. (more…)

Participants in Nicaragua at the conference for women.

February 23-27, 2012 a seminar for Latin American women was arranged in Montelimar, Nicaragua by the jarl Hjalmarson Foundation. The subject was empowerment of women in politics. 45 participnats from El Salvador (ARENA), Guatemala (PU), Nicaragua (PC), Panamá (CD), Dominican Republic (FNP) and Paraguay (MDR) were trained by Azalia Avilés, Vicepresident of IWDU, Maria José Argaña, Ex Minister for the Women in Paraguay, Cristina Aguiar, Vice Minister for the Department of Human Rights at the Foreign Minister in the Dominican Republic, Vilma de Fröhlich, Consuler of the Central American Bank of Economic Integration and Javier Loaiza, Director of the Political School Tomás Moro in Colombia. (more…)

Klas Hjort and Senad Šepić during a training session.

The seminar took place from May 4-6, 2012 a seminar was organized in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovinaby the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation and the Stranka Demokratske Akcije (SDA). Some 40 members of the SDA party from Bosnia were trained on ideology and policy making  by James Marriot, Secretary General of the International Young Democratic Union, Senad Šepić, Director of Political Academy of SDA, Klas Hjort, Political Advicer of the Moderate Party Office in the European Parliament and Evelina Lorentzon, Risk Analyst

This seminar is the first part of a 3 step training. The coming seminars are taking place in the autumn and in the begining of next year.

“Act instead of talking” was the slogan of the Georgian government party, United National Movement (UNM) in the last Presidential election in 2008. Since then, the government has in fact acted. Corruption, which after independence was widespread, has been reduced and economic growth has increased. There is still work to be done in order for the country to become a full democracy and in October it will be determined whether President Mikheil Saakashvili and the UNM will get four more years to approach that goal. The election campaign has already begun and international election observers have been invited.  (more…)

Mustapha Ussif (left) and Anthony Puowele Karbo.

“We have learned how important the institutions are for democracy to work,” explains Anthony Puowele Karbo, Chairman of the NPP’s youth organization in Ghana. He and Mustapha Ussif was part of a group of young politicians from the Foundation’s sister party in Ghana that visited Sweden for a week in March.
Mustapha Ussif recounts the group’s visit to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the City of Stockholm. He was impressed by that fact that the department’s work goes on as planned also when the political leadership of the city changes.
“This is not the case in Ghana”, he explains, adding that in this respect Ghana has something to learn from Sweden.
Anthony Puowele Karbo is impressed by the great tolerance that political opponents show each other. (more…)