FMS today celebrates the International Day for Democracy. We therefore like to highlight what we do to support and promote democracy, both at home and abroad. We advocate for emerging democracies and for (social) democrats in countries where freedom is under pressure.
This year's theme for the International Day of Democracy is "Empowering the next generation". Young people often feel inadequately heard in politics. An inclusive democracy also listens to young people. After all, young people are the present and future custodians of democracy.
We support the building of democratic political parties, through trainings, at the request of our foreign partners and maintain an extensive network of international political foundations and partner organisations. Our trainings focus on the next generation of politicians. For example, we train young politicians in the Western Balkans, who thus learn to become politically active and build democratic political movements. It is important to continue training and supporting a new generation to safeguard and strengthen democracy - the skills they build through this are of lifelong value.
European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity
The FMS provides the secretariat of the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity, a platform for cooperation between social democratic parties and foundations in and outside the EU. The European Forum aims to strengthen social democracy in Europe and mutual solidarity and solidarity. The European Forum does this by building and maintaining a network between Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region). The European Forum is a venue for gathering information on political parties, elections and democratic developments in the 22 countries where we operate - with a focus on social democracy. The Forum also coordinates research and meetings for social democratic organisations in Europe. See all our work for the European Forum on the own website.
Our work in the Netherlands
Our work for democracy does not only take place with our partners on Europe's external borders. Also at The Netherlands has been actively working on the subject for several years. Indeed, Dutch democracy, and thus our credibility and role internationally, is also under pressure. This summer, Kido Koenig was a guest on the subject in a podcast about the ambitions of the cooperation between the Labour Party and the Green Left and also In the publication of the Wiardi Beckman Foundation (Socialism and Democracy) we brought up that there is a lot of work to be done in the Netherlands to put the deed to the democratic word.
In addition, the FMS, along with other civil society organisations, is a member of the coalition ''Democracy under Pressure'. Together, we organise events, share news, campaign and raise awareness of democracy. Our aim is to make democracy stronger, both at home and abroad, and to ensure that everyone is involved. In this, we cooperate with PAX for Peace, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC), Stichting Meer Democratie, Transparency International NL and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), among others. In the manifesto of Democracy under Pressure also states that the new generation of active citizens should be empowered, for example through training, to safeguard democracy.
The FMS organises annual political cafes on topics within our field that we feel are underexposed, often characterised by global inequality and injustice. In a balanced panel, we invite speakers to have an in-depth discussion on a particular topic. In recent years, we have organised political cafés on Curaçao, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Myanmar and West Papua, among others. These political cafés help create social awareness about these countries and their political situation.
These political cafes are alternately organised in real life and online. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date on new FMS events!
International Democracy Day in Brussels
In addition, the FMS was also present at the International Democracy Day in Brussels (14-15 September). We maintain strong ties with sister organisations in Brussels working for international democracy support. At events like this, it becomes all the more clear how many activists around the world are working for democratic change in their own contexts. From Syria, Paraguay, Georgia to South Korea (where the third Summit for Democracy will take place next year), journalists, activists, politicians are fighting every day to bring about democratic change. And despite cultural differences, ways in which democracy is argued around the world are often strikingly similar - focusing on citizen empowerment directly related to particular societal challenges.
Uniform in this, then, is the struggle of democratic movements for greater control at the community level, but also their call for international support to bring about precisely these democratic changes. International attention and support for activists is crucial in countering the repressive power of autocratic governments. Reducing authoritarian forces therefore requires better cooperation, coordination and knowledge exchange between democratic forces worldwide. The FMS will continue to advocate for this.
The Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) is an independent foreign foundation affiliated to the PvdA. We work for democratisation in the EU's neighbouring countries, fairer Dutch and EU policies towards developing countries, and we stimulate public debate on these issues in the Netherlands. We depend on donations for our work. Would you like to support the FMS? Then go to foundationmaxvanderstoel.nl/doneer/.
Author: Yasmin Bijvank