Fortifying Political Parties in the Wake of Political Disruption

In Spring 2021, IRI began a cross-regional program between the Transatlantic Strategy Division and the Latin America & Caribbean Division aimed at bolstering the capacities of mainstream political parties to address political disruptions and adapt to electorates’ shifting demands.

The program defines political disruptions as issues that challenge the ability of mainstream parties to retain popular support and build trust within an electorate. Existing data shows recent environments of instability and uncertainty have bred mistrust of parties around issues derived from economic crises, divisions over migration flows, unresolved inequities, and perceived or realized party ethical shortcomings. Furthermore, politically disruptive actors often capitalize upon and exacerbate these issues by employing divisive rhetoric to drive wedges through society. As a result, mainstream parties, which often prove more stable and representative, have suffered on both sides of the Atlantic, thereby allowing space for more uncertainty and less democratic resilience.

Recognizing the role that strong and representative parties play in supporting democratic institutions and values, IRI engages 23 political parties for engagement in the program, across 13 countries for a series of individualized workshops, in-person workshops, and training consultations. Additionally, the program aims to interview several politically disruptive individuals in both regions to better understand their motivations, tactics, and objectives. This unique undertaking provides IRI with new insights into the workings of disruptive actors and enables the Institute to build more effective strategies with its political party partners.  

In December 2021, the program convened 25 political party leaders from across Europe and Latin America in Rome, Italy to discuss a variety of disruptive challenges confronting mainstream parties. The gathering provided a unique opportunity for elected leaders to look beyond their own party or country context and to explore innovative solutions to the mounting challenges posed by disruptive forces. In addition to exploring trends in fringe party voting and the tactics of disruptive actors, the event hosted roundtables on immigration and identity, women in politics, and environmental policies. The program will host additional summits in Latin American in February 2022, as well as a large gathering of all political party stakeholders in the United States in March 2022. By the conclusion of the program, IRI aims to publish a series of brief topical reports and facilitate ongoing connections between Transatlantic political parties and elected leaders.

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