Democracy and participation, Civic education

Pre-election Civic Lobbying Accelerator shortlist

Establishing Trust Dialogue Between Citizens and Political Parties on the Czech Periphery

Creators

Who is behind this?

Jakub Kvapil

Rekonstrukce státu

https://www.rekonstrukcestatu.cz/cs/about-reconstruction-of-the-state

Czech Republic

Who is joining forces?

Oživení z. s. (NGO)

https://www.oziveni.cz/english/

Czech Republic


Oživení promotes principles of transparent public administration and sustainable development. It offers counseling to activists & municipal politicians. It is 1 of the 5 guarantor organizations of RS.

Idea

Idea pitch

Peripheral regions exhibit the lowest voter turn-out (40 % in Karlovarský and Ústecký in 2017 general election). Citizens there often distrust parliamentary democracy and feel overlooked by politicians on both the local and state level. As part of our campaign for the run up to 2021 general elections, we will recruit 3 groups of citizens in Karlovarský and Ústecký region and equip them for a successful dialogue with political parties, so they can share their story and help mobilize voters.

Where will your project idea take place?

Ústecký and Karlovarský regions (Karlovy Vary, Chomutov, Ústí n. Labem)

What is the local challenge?

Karlovarský and Ústecký regions suffer from long-term socioeconomic disadvantage. They rank 1st in percentage of population subject to distraint (17 %) and 4th in unemployment rate. Quality of medical care, education and environment is consistently low. The region comprises Roma ghettos and racial discrimination is rampant.
As a result, voters distrust parliamentary democracy and political parties. The regions exhibit low voter turnout (15 % lower than the statewide average in 2017 general election) and are susceptible to anti-systemic and populist parties (13 % votes went to anti-systemic parties in 2017).
The citizens feel overlooked and remain passive and frustrated. They lack positive models, as well as knowledge of the political system and rules of communication with politicians.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

For our 2021 pre-election campaign, we will choose topics at the heart of citizens’ dissatisfaction with democracy (corruption; unreliable courts; distraint). We will recruit citizens from 3 cities to a civic lobbying accelerator and work with them for the whole year.
They will be involved in identification of the issues, formulating positive, constructive solutions capable of overcoming polarization, pre-election campaigning, communication with politicians (even in person) and lobbying with the government after it is formed.
We will offer support, know-how and enable them to experience success. The guest experts will share tips on how to advocate, lobby and campaign. Participants will be encouraged to share the materials, mobilize civic lobbyists and voters around them.

Who are you doing it for?

We will target local small NGOs, e.g. grassroots initiatives trying to change something at the municipal level (prevent a tree felling, repair a sidewalk...). We will make sure to include a diverse group of activists, especially as regards party allegiances: young people (students of Ústí university and high schools, skewing progressive), women on maternity leave, Roma people, local sports and hunting associations (skewing conservative), seniors.
In this we will rely on contacts of our local active citizens and partners from NGO sector (especially Oživení).
As part of the program, participants will get the chance to talk to state-level MPs and parliamentary candidates, as it is also important to dismantle the communication barrier between politicians and voters (in both ways).

How do you plan to get there?

Planned activities:
NOV 2020: finalizing short-list of topics, expert work on talking points
NOV-DEC 2020: preparing introductory one-day sessions (booking, expert groups, promotion, recruiting participants)
SPRING 2021: one-day event in each city - lobbying workshop with citizens, basics of campaigning and advocacy, discussion with expert guests, discussing pre-election topics
SPRING-SUMMER 2021: continuous work with participants - calls to actions, monthly Skype sessions, weekend meet-up with other civic lobbyists from Rekonstrukce státu
FALL 2021: organizing and holding 3 pre-election public debates, pre-election campaign in the streets and online
WINTER 2021: lobbying for policy points into government programme, further work with citizens in the next election period

What are the expected results?

At the end of 2021, we anticipate our project will have the following impact:
=> ca 60 newly active citizens in total from the two regions will be trained in civic lobbying
=> an informal support network will be formed from local activists, municipal politicians and citizens
=> 15 civic lobbyists will further stay with Rekonstrukce státu
=> 500 citizens will be directly impacted by mobiliziation by participants
=> 10-20 personal meetings will have taken place between new local civic lobbyists and politicians
=> up to 5 policy measures will be included in pre-election programmes of political parties thanks to our lobbying
=> up to 3 policy measures will appear in the program of the next government

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

We believe that strong civil society is necessary for upholding democracy and the rule of law. In our experience and the experience of our local civic lobbyists, dialogue with politicians about concrete, fact-based policies helps to dismantle negative stereotypes and inspires trust in the possibility of positive change within the framework of parliamentary democracy. Additionally, healthy democracy requires the input from socioeconomically and otherwise disadvantaged people. As an organization we are in touch with NGOs in other countries (Frank Bold is also active in Poland and Brussels) and will be happy to share our experience with them.

What is your story?

Rekonstrukce státu was founded by former environmental activists and lawyers who realized that solving local causes has its limits if corruption is in-built into the system. That is why we launched a statewide anti-corruption campaign in 2013 to offer concrete legislative measures for system change.
Since then we work with all parties regardless of their popularity and ideological bent. We track politicians’ votes and praise and criticize them accordingly. We have proven multiple times that mutually hostile politicians can agree on good laws.
Often, this earns us hate from citizens whose view of the political scene is shaped by one-sided “cultural wars”, even though we all agree on a common democratic ground. Uniting all kinds of people for protection of this common ground is our goal.

€ 10000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 14310,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Coordination of the project 2800 E
Lobbying support and training 1500 E
PR and communication (communications strategy, media, adv. strategy) 2000 E
Rent for public meetings 2650 E
Travel costs 1200 E
Advertisement (online and outdoor) 840 E
Graphic design of handout materials 350 E
Print of handout materials 420 E
Admin. costs (Office rent, energies, accounting, admin. support) 1050 E
Financial support for partner organisation (Networking, communication, events) 1500 E

Team

Rekonstrukce státu

Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on Aug. 3, 2020

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