The International Republican Institute (IRI), with the Robert Schuman Institute and the Centre for Political Parliamentary Education and Training (CET), co-hosted the Future Tendencies and Challenges of Political Education, a conference for the European Political Party Foundations and Institutes (EPPFI) network, an IRI initiative to support the development and closer relations of organizations affiliated with political parties across the region.  The two day conference in Budapest brought together EPPFI network members met to discuss political education programs in their respective countries and possibilities for future collaboration.

Jan van Laarhoven, President of the Eduardo Frei Foundation of the Netherlands and member of the International Board of the Robert Schuman Institute, served as a featured speaker.  He highlighting recent trends in democracy promotion and the important role that party foundations, like Eduardo Frei and its sister organizations, play in this field.

In the first portion of the program, participants from 12 Central and Eastern European countries discussed the work of political education in the new member states of the European Union.  Meeting participants discussed current education programs being implemented across the region, using specific examples from their own political party foundations and institutes.  Case studies included the Romanian Democratic Liberal Party, the Slovak Democratic Christian Union-Democratic Party, CEVRO Liberal Conservative Academy, the Slovak Christian Democratic Party, European Democratic Path, the Foundation for a Civic Hungary, and the Antall József Foundation.  

Political education programs in Eastern and Southeastern Europe was the focus of the second working session.  Participants from seven representative countries addressed the challenges facing their training efforts, including problems of funding, party capacity, and political organization within countries.  Highlighting the work being done in Serbia, Tomislav Damnjanović, the G17Plus Executive Board President, presented a mock training module based on G17Plus’ micro-targeting efforts for identifying likely voters.  The session also included case studies from Ukraine Institute of Political Education, Ukraine Bat’kivschina Moloda, Democratic Party of Serbia, Konrad Adenauer Foundation Serbia, the Albanian New Democrat Party, Ukraine’s Democratic Alliance, and the People’s Union Our Ukraine.

During the event participants also discussed an IRI pilot initiative, a trainer’s academy that would offer advanced training opportunities for members of the party foundation network who specialize in political education.

The Budapest event was supported by the EPP-ED Group – the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats in the European Parliament.  CET and the Robert Schuman Institute are affiliated with EPP-ED.

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