Tunisian School of politics

As the Tunisian revolution showed, youth are key agents of change in society. Almost 70 % of Tunisians are under the age of 35 and the country is facing pressing youth related challenges. It will therefore be extremely important to get Tunisian youth, both men and women, involved in (party) politics in a constructive way. Protesting and civil society activism are not enough: action is needed to encourage youth to get involved in party politics; youth voices in Tunisian politics need to be strengthened in order to avoid a situation where the majority of the population feels that their concerns are not heard.

Despite the general disinterest in party politics among young Tunisians, there is already a small amount of young people joining political parties. However, even though these young party activists are interested in politics, they lack basic knowledge of multiparty politics and democratic practices. Tunisian youth politicians also lack effective tools of influencing political decision making, including within their respective parties. Unfortunately most current parties are not making enough effort to engage with young Tunisians, and youth are seen merely as potential voters, limiting the political role they play to participating in elections.

The CEMI-Demo-NIMD-BSoP programme will address the numerous challenges of the political participation of youth mentioned above. This will be done by improving the skills and capacity of Tunisian youth politicians and by providing them with the necessary tools to influence political decision making in a more effective manner. When youth politicians have the necessary means to advance issues important to young Tunisians in politics it is anticipated that youth issues will gain a more central place in Tunisian politics and that awareness among young people in the democratic system and political parties will be enhanced. This in turn will hopefully lead to increased youth participation in politics.

Description of action

The overall objective of this programme is to strengthen inclusive democracy and youth participation in politics in Tunisia. In furtherance of this more general aim, the specific objective of the action is to increase the capacity and skills of politically active youth. This is achieved by establishing a cross-party training network of leading youth politicians. The training network takes the form of a Tunisian School of Politics (TSoP) that targets young people already active in political parties. The TSoP consists of courses that provide youth politicians with increased knowledge of multiparty politics and democratic practices. The courses also provide them with the necessary skills and tools to influence political decision-making in a more effective manner.
The overarching methodology of the TSoP is based on the importance of cross-party engagement in supporting the development of the Tunisian democratic system and, capacity-building of its chosen target group; youth politicians. The cross-party approach encourages constructive engagement and communication between different political parties which will be vital to the democratic transition and stability of Tunisia in the longer term.

  1. Formation of a cross-party training network for Tunisian youth politicians Two six-month courses of the TSoP are planned for 2012 with approximately 50 youth politicians attending each 1-3 day meetings/workshops roughly twice a month. A selection procedure has been developed to identify the most potential participants. Special attention is paid to gender equality and regional representation of the participants. Among the participants of the first cycle are twenty deputies from the Constituent Assembly, implying a rough ten percent of the Assembly’s total. It is envisaged for the SoP to continue in the coming years as well. The project management structure guarantees the structural evaluation of the programme to ensure the effectiveness and impact of the action.
  2. Thematic knowledge enhancement Each course starts with 3-4 thematic seminars on democratic practices. The specific topics of these seminars will be selected at the beginning of each course based on the needs and preferences of the course participants, for example:  the role of parties in democracy and modalities of multiparty politics  the role of civil society in democracy  gender in politics  topics to be decided by students Each seminar session starts with presentations from leading national and international experts on the topic at hand, followed by practice-oriented sessions where the students will deepen their understanding of the theme through participatory methods. The workshop sessions are highly interactive and involve the use of power points, discussions, group works and structured debates.
  3. Sharing of effective tools of influencing political decision making In addition to the thematic seminars, each course consists of 4-6 workshops on effective tools of developing policies and influencing political decision making, for instance:  policy development and conducting internal and external policy debates  media outreach  negotiation and trust building  campaign strategies The workshops facilitate comparative exchange of experiences and best practices between Tunisian youth politicians and their counterparts in Europe. These exchanges of ideas will be done both through online Skype conferences as well as by organising exchange visits to and from Tunisia. At the end of each course one student from each of the participating Tunisian political parties will be selected to take part in a study visit to Europe.
  4. Practical exercises of joint initiatives and campaigns Practical exercises will feature heavily throughout the course. In addition to this, at the end of each course the students will be required to put into practice what they have learned during the course through jointly planned advocacy and media campaigns on selected youth topics. The joint action is expected to improve cooperation and trust over party lines. European youth politicians will provide peer to peer support in implementing these activities. Partners and coordination with other actors The Tunisian School of Politics is a joint initiative of CEMI, Demo Finland, NIMD and BSoP. CEMI is the main implementing organisation for activities in Tunisia.

Partners and coordination with other actors

The Tunisian School of Politics is a joint initiative of CEMI, Demo Finland, NIMD and BSoP. CEMI is the main implementing organisation for activities in Tunisia. The TSoP will be one component of a larger, democracy support programme in Tunisia, implemented by NIMD and CEMI.

Good working relationships have been established with the main international donors and organisations working in the field of democracy support in Tunisia. These organisations include for example the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democracy Institute (NDI), International IDEA, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and German political foundations such as Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Kondrad Adenauer Stiftung.

The programme will also draw on a wide network of Tunisian civil society organizations. In particular NGOs working in the field of youth issues will be closely engaged in the implementation phase of the programme, in order to build constructive channels of communication between youth politicians and young people otherwise active in civil society.