Political Parties: Proven Tool for Political Change

Political parties at work

One set of institutions that are particularly well suited to channeling civic desire for change into positive political action but are often overlooked in international circles are political parties. Relatively little attention is paid to the important role parties play in aggregating citizen interests and channeling them into constructive and peaceful means toward democratic reform.

Therefore, an area of opportunity with tremendous potential in countries where NDI works is to provide more technology assistance to parties, especially in autocratic states (assuming parties are allowed!) where the regime often has access to considerable state resources and controls the major organs of state communication.

Three important areas of political party development that our team (in partnership with our excellent Political Parties team) have identified that show promise and impact include:

  • Party Communications, both public and internal including messaging and strategic planning
  • Policy Formation, the technology opportunity being ways to gather input from membership to inform party positions and policies
  • Grassroots Development / Branch Developmemt, organizing, engaging and growing the party base - tracking and communicating with members at all levels of the party is an obvious tech opportunity here

Parties that can put technology to work in those areas will be well positioned to take advantage of political moments when they arise, compete effectively in elections, keep members engaged between elections, and govern effectively when in power.

An excellent example of a political party being positioned to take advantage of a political moment of opportunity created by effective use of technology and civic organizing was the successful engagement by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after the election results were challenged in the 2008 Zimbabwe election.

We'll be posting more on these areas of tech-enabled party development work around the world in future posts.