Since the start of the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy in January 2011 (when the secretariat was established), it has been my privilege to lead the development of the institute until my retirement at the end of 2016. One of my responsibilities, and one I have really enjoyed, has been to write and edit the Annual Report, and to work with Simon de Tusch-Lec, the Creative Director of the company called Move Copenhagen, which has been responsible for the design of DIPD publications and posters.

When we planned the transition at the end of 2016, I agreed with the Chairman, Henrik Bach Mortensen, and the new Director, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, that it would make sense for me to edit the Annual report for 2016. Readers will have to judge for themselves, but I believe that the report truthfully reflects how DIPD has continued to grow in its capacity to make a difference, while at the same time accepting that we are right now working in a very difficult global environment, where support for democracy is under pressure.

Download report here: DIPD Annual Report 2016

This gives you access to a special version of the report: https://bit.ly/2sSc3SR

Below you will find the introductory presentation by Chairman Henrik Bach Mortensen and Director Rasmus Helveg Petersen, where they reflect on the global environment and some of the challenges facing the institute in the coming years.

new approaches needed

It is impossible to encapsulate global developments in 2016 in the area of democracy in general and democracy support in particular in one word. However, it would not be an exaggeration to state that democracy came under pressure in most corners of the world.

In our own part of the world, we saw many examples of the traditional political parties being challenged by parties claiming that they represent the real needs and wishes of the ‘people’, versus the ‘elite’ protected by the traditional parties. In other parts of the world, many governments further strengthened the tendency to question the legitimacy and necessity of what we have so far considered to be universally agreed values and principles, like access to information, free and fair elections, accountability, and the rule of law.

These global trends have not affected the daily work of the institute in any dramatic manner, but they have certainly not made it any easier to operate in some of our partner countries. For the global democracy support community, it has been an opportunity to discuss the link between what we practise at home and what we advise our partners around the world to do.

Considering that DIPD has branded itself strongly on the best practices from our own country, it has naturally been an issue for debate when delegations visited Denmark. We have welcomed these debates, in line with our understanding that DIPD is a platform for mutual sharing and learning. The business of democracy support is a two-way street, not a business of exporting what we believe to be the best solution for others.

This line of thinking was also at the heart of a new partnership between the new Danish party ‘The Alternative’, which won seats in parliament for the first time in the 2015 election, and the new Nepali party called ‘New Force’, formed by people from the Maoist party. While very different in ideology, the two parties share a vision of doing politics differently, meaning being more inclusive and less prescriptive, engaging youth and thinking out of the box, in an effort to respond to the criticism from voters all over the world.

Another example of breaking new ground was the cooperation between two Danish parties representing different ideological blocs in the party landscape, the Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party. Both parties have strong youth wings and believe in the importance of involving and mobilising youth for political participation. In coming together, they are sending a strong and important message to parties in Malawi about the need to involve youth, as well as the need for different political parties to work together peacefully.

Finally, in 2016 two regional programmes were added to the existing country-based programmes. One was regional cooperation on WOMEN IN POLITICS between Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, to upscale existing activities. Another was the Social Democrats working with partners in the Philippines, Nepal and Myanmar to strengthen policy development by sharing experiences. These approaches on the one hand allow the Danish partner to share Danish experiences, while at the same time allowing partners in the region to benefit from each other without interference from the Danes.

The results of these new dimensions will only materialise some years down the road. They were therefore not reflected in the findings from the three reviews and evaluations undertaken by external groups of consultants in 2016. One focusing on youth, commissioned by DIPD itself; one focusing on the programme in Myanmar, commissioned by the EU; and one with a focus on DIPD overall, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It will come as no surprise that we are happy to note that the overarching conclusion from the three reports combined is that DIPD is on the right track. The strategy approved by the Board in 2014 is a sound and useful platform for our activities. Partnerships have developed well and already offer results that benefit the partners.

However, we have also carefully noted the many constructive recommendations in the reports on how DIPD can deliver even more effectively in the future. Our preparation of programmes and the decision on which instruments should be used in each case can be improved, and we need to monitor the achievements of benchmarks even better. DIPD also needs to take a critical look at how we can strengthen our focus and deliver more effectively in the areas, where we have the best expertise.

This will be important inputs to the process of implementing a revised strategy for DIPD, and this will be a key agenda in 2017.

A thank you from the new Director

Allow me finally to thank the new DIPD Director, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, for his words of appreciation to me on the back side of the cover of the annual report.