Bakhodir Burkhanov: Pacific Regional Dialogue on Political Parties - Does the Pacific Need Political Parties?

Sep 19, 2017

(Photo: UNDP/Jone Raqauqau)

Honourable Speakers, Members of Parliament, Parliamentary clerks;

Electoral and Political Party Commission and Staff;

Ladies and gentlemen:

Good morning and thank you all for coming to this important dialogue.

UNDP is proud to be a partner with political institutions in the Pacific Region. We have been working to support your efforts in Parliament and with electoral management bodies to build sustainable national institutions that reflect your countries’ commitments to democracy.

Democracy is more than the sum of Constitutional clauses, or the holding of an election every few years. It is not static; it goes beyond the foundational law or the ballot box. The success of a democracy is measured in the everyday interactions between political institutions and the citizens they represent. It is about opportunities for people to participate in the decision-making affecting their lives, through civic engagement in political parties or civil society organizations, or through access to information, e-governance and independent media.

Traditionally, UNDP has supported parliaments and electoral management bodies as two key political institutions. However, in recent years, UNDP has started to acknowledge that there is a need to support the development of a third political institution – political parties.

Political parties have a vital role to play in an effective democracy. They are a conduit between citizens and civil society and the decision-making bodies such as Government and Parliament. Effective political parties establish and maintain a network of branches and links to all parts of society to enable them to communicate and listen to the needs of citizens. These needs should then be articulated as policy and legislation that improves economic and social development for all citizens in a country.

In some countries of the Pacific region, the lack of an effective multi-party political system has had an impact on development. Without stable, well-organised parties, Governments are often wobbly, which impacts on the long-term planning required for sustained development.

In addition, political parties need to be more than just a temporary vehicle for the promotion of the interests of one political leader or a small group. Parties need to have a vision and ideas that lift them above self-interest and short-term financial gains. Parties must be a permanent, broad and inclusive network that looks to the long-term, national interests of a country.

Ladies and gentlemen:

UNDP is keen to work with political parties in your country to build parties that reflect international and regional best practices. We see this workshop as the start of a process for identifying the key aspects of UNDP support. Your inputs in the next two days are critical in helping us pursue the right entry points for such support.

This being said, we at UNDP are very aware that the context in each country is different. Some of your countries may not have political parties and the dynamics of leadership may be more cultural or traditional. In this context, this dialogue asks a key question: are political parties needed and, if so, what form should they take?

I trust this workshop will be productive and that you will see in the near future UNDP working with all of you to build sustainable, effective political parties that result in a more robust political system and, ultimately, inclusive development in your country.

In closing, I would like to say that our support for the hosting of this regional dialogue would not have been possible without the generous support from our donors, the Governments of Australia and New Zealand. Thank you for your unwavering support to UNDP’s regional programme.

I would also to thank our cooperation partner for this dialogue – the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Australia), a political foundation from the Federal Republic of Germany – for working in partnership with UNDP to jointly implement this regional dialogue. This is the first time that UNDP in the Pacific has partnered with a political party foundation.

I wish you fruitful deliberations over the next two days, hoping that this dialogue deepens our collective understanding of the democratic space in the Pacific.

Thank you!

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