Whence Popularity? The New Wave of European Populist Parties

Protesters gather in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square as part of the 15-M anti-austerity movement. Source: Wikimedia Commons

A populist wave has crashed down upon the streets of Europe. Populist parties, old and new, left and right, have been dominating headlines in Europe over the past few years. Such parties are often led by charismatic leaders, and they claim to represent the will of the people against the elite or status quo. “The people” they appeal to are often those who feel alienated by European integration -- those who feel threatened by economic reform or lenient immigration policies.

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Protest Parties: What Does a Pirate or Anarcho-Surrealist Do After Being Elected?

Jon Gnarr, in his official capacity as mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland. Gnarr, a sketch comedian, was elected in 2009 on satirical platform of providing free towels at public pools, a polar bear at the zoo and a drug-free parliament by 2020.

In the last decade, a proliferation of anti-establishment parties in the Euro-Atlantic region has led to increased numbers of protest candidates elected to local, national and European office. Protest parties reject mainstream politics and incumbency, opting instead for sensational campaigns that often advocate for a single issue. Pirates in the UK or anarcho-surrealists in Iceland make for interesting debates, but what happens when candidates who reject a system become part of it? Recent examples show that citizens will vote for protest candidates to highlight “elephant-in-the-room” issues, but in the long run candidates need to be able to deliver on critical issues to maintain support.

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Kosovo Assembly Endorses the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness

The Declaration on Parliamentary Openness is a call to the world’s parliaments to increase their commitment to citizen engagement in legislative work. Collaboratively drafted by the global parliamentary monitoring community, the declaration has been endorsed by more than 180 civil society organizations (CSOs) in over 80 countries. Increasingly, parliaments are also signing on to the declaration. On May 4, the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo formally endorsed the declaration, joining a small vanguard of parliaments around the world.

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The Floor is Yours: Bosnia's New Online Citizen Engagement Platform

NDItech, NDI’s Technology Programs team, sat down via Google Hangouts with NDI’s Asja Kratovic, resident program officer in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), to discuss the recently released Imate Rijec website. The site brings together the voices of politicians and citizens on some of Bosnia’s most pressing social and political issues.

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New Politics in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s journey from the Dayton Peace Accords to sustainable democracy has rested on the notion that ethnic power-sharing and highly decentralized government would, over time, give way to more integrated forms of government and politics. Ethnic interests, though still primary, would cease to be the exclusive basis on which power is won and exercised. Other forms of association – environmental, business, labor, students and pensioners, etc. – transcending ethnicity would take their place in the political system.

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Partnering with Roma Activists to Evaluate Political Mainstreaming in Slovakia

In two days the world will celebrate International Roma Day, which highlights the issues facing Romani people around the world.
Over the last decade, with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), NDI has supported Roma political candidates, civic activists and elected officials as they seek to increase their participation in civic and political life.

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Beyond the ballot box, election monitors work to improve health care in Albania

New democracies often get stuck when fair elections, active civic groups, independent media, party competition and constitutional checks on power still don’t produce better government. Instead, corruption, political conflict and other problems can fester and upend the notion that democracy does in fact make life better.

This is the situation in Albania, which ditched communism in 1990. While making huge strides in the 25 years since, Albania nonetheless is mired in bad politics that leaves people wondering if its new democratic order can make government function as it should.

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Job Opportunity: Program Officer for Eurasia

NDI's Eurasia Team is seeking a Program Officer/Senior Program Officer to contribute to the planning, design and evaluation of democratic development projects in collaboration with regional and field staff by performing the duties listed below. The position focuses primarily on the Institute’s programs in Ukraine; however, portfolio is subject to change based on funding and other factors. The position is available immediately.

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