Educatie pentru Democratie: Avem nevoie de o (noua) strategie?
Program funded by IDEE

Background

In November 1996 a coalition of parties, perceived as reformist and democratic, won the elections in Romania, based on a message against corruption and delays in the economic reform which had characterized the previous PDSR government.

During the last four years, the coalition managed to lose most of its support due to its lack of ability to implement economic reforms, increased poverty (40% of the population lives with less than $4/day) and because the Romanian government was perceived as heavily corrupt and inefficient. The Parliament scored in the public opinion polls as the institution with the lowest degree of trust and appreciation.

In November 2000, Romania managed to get more negative press in two weeks than it did in the previous four years. The electorate punished heavily the main party of the former ruling coalition: The National Paysan Christian Democrat Party (NPCDP). NPCDP and its allies did not even make it in the parliament. The Social Democracy Party of Romania (SDPR), the former ruling party won a comfortable plurality of 48%. The surprising and disturbing result were the 26% that the Greater Romania Party (GRP) managed to get in the first round. GRP is an extremist party that had always had a fairly modest presence (8-13% in the opinion polls) had suddenly jumped in the preference of the electorate.

If the SDPR victory was expected and normal, the high score of GRP and especially the type of electorate that voted for him, according to the exit polls announced after the first round, is extremely surprising:

The GRP won in relatively well off counties, until now traditionally anti –communist and pro democratic, based especially on the votes of the 18-35 age group, the least touched by the previous communist propaganda. No simple explanation exists for this phenomenon and many questions arise for the democracy activists :

  • What prompted a large part of the electorate to switch their vote to GRP?
  • What is the level of political and civic education of these voters?
  • How did they get their political and civic education? If any?
  • Aren’t the civic education programs (public or private) and their design in some measure responsible for this result?

A number of sociologists, political analysts and opinion leaders from Romania are anxious to meet and debate the issues above.

After the completion of the program the participants will acquire the skills necessary for effective political activity and to get access to higher decision levels in the party hierarchy in both countries. The School for Serb and Romanian Political Leaders will provide an opportunity for the young leaders to exercise political dialogue, negotiation and compromise, the hallmarks of democratic societies. Serbs and Romanians will identify common challenges during the seminars and will look for possible common solutions. They will learn how to set up basic common standards for their political activity, how to communicate inside their organization, but also with the media and the citizens. And last, but not least, they will learn that besides lots of things that divide them, there are more things they have in common. Serbs and Romanians will learn how to communicate effectively, how to share information and build common trust. They will be able to establish long lasting interpersonal relations that will be valuable assets for co-operation in the region when they will become political decision-makers. Institutional relationships are first of all people relationships.