Between the 27th and 30th of November 2014, the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity organized a training for representatives of social democratic parties from Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia. The training took place in Amman and focused on developing and communicating a message that is based on concrete policy issues in the region that are of importance for social democrats. The Future Leaders training course is supported by the UK Labour Party through the Westminster Foundation. Our partner in Jordan, Jordanian Commission for Democratic Culture (JCDC), provided great assistance in making the training possible, while Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) and the Labour Party provided two trainers each to conduct the training.
After introducing the program and the working method, we got to know each other by means of a short interview and presentation. Immediately from the start it was clear that the participants are eager to get to know their politically like-minded friends from the region. Therefore, it was of added value that the first assignment was to present your party, political situation and the main challenges in your country and explain what social democracy means to you. Among others, the outcome of these presentations was that young people in these countries face similar challenges. The instability related to the war in Syria was, for example, often mentioned. Furthermore, the education, regional cooperation, social justice, freedom of speech and expression were the issues that draw much attention.
In the following module we tried to pinpoint what exactly the issues are the participants want to work on and how they want to solve problems related to these issues. We reflected on the importance of policy making by providing them a basic theoretical framework. It proved to be quite challenging for the participants to come up with concrete realistic solutions for the problems their countries are facing. By providing some examples and encouraging them to be as specific as possible when thinking of policy solutions we succeeded to a certain extend to get concrete proposals.
After having set the policies of their interest we focused on developing a campaign strategy by means of a SWOT and SMART analysis. This was quite a challenge having participants from different countries and different parties. The next module was on developing a central message. Firstly, we discussed the theory on central message that plays a key role in your campaign. This was followed by short theory on strategy and a role play on how to get your message out. Communicating the message was quite new for most participants, and challenging as well, to keep the message short and simple.
Information and exchange of experience on local campaigns, activism, volunteers management and ‘Get-Out-To-Vote’ campaigns was very interesting for the participants. They were eager to exchange experience with the trainers and each other.
On the final day a module on preparing an interview was followed by an exercise in which the participants were assigned to answer difficult question from other participants who acted as journalists. The whole theory of the previous days came together in this interview: sending a clear message on a specific topic bearing in mind the values of social democracy. In this way we combined practical skills with content. The training ended with an individual and group assignment and evaluation.