Political Strategy in Closed and Closing Spaces: A Playbook for Political Parties

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Around the world, emerging authoritarian threats have put democratic institutions at risk of backsliding and new democracies in danger of losing critical progress made towards fair and inclusive democratic systems. Democratic political parties can play a critical role in combating authoritarian forces but need to be aware of the risks that come along with operating in a closing or closed democratic space. Without the proper techniques and skills, parties risk endangering themselves as institutions and also their members and supporters. Historically marginalized and excluded groups, including women, young people, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, as well as the LGBTQI+ community, also continue to encounter obstacles in their pursuit of equal participation. They are particularly vulnerable in a closed or closing space context. Amidst these circumstances, proponents of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law find themselves engaged in a competition of ideas with illiberal and anti-democratic forces regarding the organization of political power.

NDI’s playbook and accompanying guidance note is a timely resource for political party leaders and members navigating the challenges of operating in closed and closing spaces. As democratic actors face escalating threats from illiberal and authoritarian forces and regimes worldwide, this comprehensive guide equips political parties to strategically plan and organize their work while upholding democratic and inclusive principles. The playbook covers essential areas for successful operations in closed and closing spaces, providing guidance on developing political strategies, managing risks, organizing effectively, building coalitions, engaging allies, employing strategic communications, and preparing for democratic transitions. While the strategies employed to address these challenges may vary depending on a party's resources and mission, this publication offers valuable guidance applicable to a wide range of political contexts. This includes political parties that work in countries that had democracy but lost democracy, countries that have never had democracy, countries that have democracy but are now leaning towards authoritarianism, and countries that are authoritarian but are showing glimpses of democracy.

Do you want to learn more about the Playbook? Contact us at [email protected].



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