IRI Board Member Frank Fahrenkopf Meets with Partners in Europe

In the first series of events this year in the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) European Partnership Initiative, IRI Board Member and Co-Chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates Frank J. Fahrenkopf recently led a speaking and consultation mission to Brussels, Belgium, and The Hague, Netherlands from January 26-30, 2009.  Fahrenkopf, who is also the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, spoke to a number of audiences comprised of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and representatives of the Dutch Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) on the topic “The Obama Presidency and the Future of the Republican Party.”

In one-on-one meetings with MEPs, as well as in his presentations, Fahrenkopf analyzed the winning campaign of Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States in 2008, noting the campaign’s extraordinary success in the use of internet communication and fundraising techniques, as well as the remarkable charisma of the candidate himself.  He also compared the victories of the Democrats in 2008 to their wins in 1992 and Republican sweeps in 1980, by way of highlighting the natural swings of the political pendulum in the United States.

Events in Brussels were organized in close cooperation with IRI’s partner, the European People’s Party (EPP), members of which comprise the largest bloc in the European Parliament, and include senior members of the European Commission, including Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.  On January 28, EPP President Wilfried Martens hosted a luncheon for Fahrenkopf and 30 MEPs and staff from Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.  On January 29, EU-US Delegation Chairman Jonathan Evans of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom hosted another group of MEPs from parties across the political spectrum as part of a day-long parliamentary hearing on the future of transatlantic relations in which Fahrenkopf took part.

In The Hague, with the Eduardo Frei Foundation (EFF) President Jan van Laarhoven as host, Fahrenkopf emphasized the importance to IRI of the close relationship the Institute has with the EFF and the CDA, and the added value this has brought to IRI programming in several regions. IRI has worked closely with the EFF of the Christian Democratic Appeal, the party of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, in its democracy assistance activities in Europe and elsewhere, particularly in Turkey.

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