Last weekend (22-24 May 2015), a new edition of the Course for Promising Politicians (CPP) started. The first seminar of this year’s course took place in Budva, Montenegro. The seminar on ideology - ‘Ich bin ein Social Democrat’ - focused on the policies and the central messages of social democracy. Over the course of three days, 27 young politicians followed several workshops on this topic.
Friday: Focusing on Social Democracy
On Friday the participants were welcomed by Ivana Racic and Danijel Tadic on behalf of the organising foundations: the Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). During the first seminar we spoke about the three main streams political school of thoughts: social democracy, liberalism and conservatism. After a short lecture on theoretical issues by FMS-trainer Michiel Emmelkamp, the participants got to practice their debating skills. For this interactive part the group was split into three teams. The participants were asked to prepare a debate from a social democratic, a liberal or a conservative point of view. In the debate, we spoke about two different topics: LGBT-rights and the privatization of public enterprises.
In the afternoon the focus shifted towards the institutions that function within social democracy. We spoke about the standards that are important for a social democratic system to function properly. During an interactive part the participants were asked to present three ideas that they would implement if they would be the prime minister of their own country. They were actively encouraged by the trainers to implement the theory that was presented in the lectures. Within their presentations the students came up with interesting and progressive ideas, plans were for instance presented on education, unemployment and economic reform.
Saturday: From theory to practice
On the second day of the seminar Karolina Leakovic arrived to debate with the group and to share some insights on developing social democratic policies. As a Croatian MP and international secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) her insights were of a serious value and helped the students to come up with plans to tackle the problems in their respective countries. During a debate on the relationship between experts and politicians, the similarities and differences between the countries of the participants became visible. After the lunch break it was time to look at social movements. In an interactive workshop students were asked to develop a plan to start a social movement. The presented plans are supposed to serve as the basis for the actual mobilization of a group of people, on which we will continue to work in the next courses.
Sunday: A Case Study on Montenegro
On the final day of the seminar a case study on Montenegro took place. Daliborka Uljarevic, director of the Centre of Civic Education and Mirko Stanic, from the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro, spoke about the situation in Montenegro. During their presentations they spoke about the positive and about the negative aspects of democracy in Montenegro. A lot of positive signs have appeared within the ´bright star of the Balkans´, there are however still a lot of issues that need to be dealt with. The interesting perspectives on the situation also offered the possibility to actively reflect on the situations within the other Balkan countries. Despite their differences a lot of the problems of the countries in the South Eastern Balkan are similar.
Over the weekend a lot of emphasis was put on the actual skills of the participants and a lot of attention was given to interactivity. Participants got to develop several practical skills, and moreover got the possibility to enter into a dialogue with other young people from the region. The course continues in a couple of weeks with a seminar on regional cooperation in Tirana (18-21 June).