Pre-election Civic Lobbying Accelerator winner

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 specific societal challenge faced by this region?

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.

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 idea strengthen 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.

Why is this idea important to you?

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.

€ 14310,-

Total budget

€ 10000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

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

Project Journey

Road to impact

Final project journey

Looking back at the beginning of our project, we have to acknowledge our goals were quite ambitious. We may have fulfilled them if working standardly, but in the current situation with a full out pandemic, we encountered serious drawbacks that almost prevented us from realizing the project. We struggled with an 8 months long lockdown, lower willingness of citizens to engage in civic society and time pressure because of our election campaign. The result is that our project involved fewer participants than we expected. It is generally much harder to engage and activate citizens in these regions but during this project, it was even harder. On the bright side, there have been a lot of new lessons learned that we can use in our future endeavors. 

On the other hand, the project helped us to lay the foundation for the future. We plan to organize discussions with politicians, workshops for high school students and retiree clubs etc. We connected with some local civic initiatives which could help us in our future efforts. I am proud that the politician from the political party which usually does not seek the opinion from citizens considered our workshop as useful and appreciated it. We are glad that we were able to arrange a meaningful discussion with non-democratic political party representatives who are quite popular in these regions. This shows that our project had a positive impact on the local community and more importantly, that there is potential for further activities, that can cultivate the political landscape in these regions.

 

Rekonstrukce státu on Nov. 15, 2021
Impact Story

New volunteers became a part of our community

Our last major event of the project - the meeting of all Rekonstrukce státu’s volunteers (ambassadors) - took place from 22nd to 24th October in Dobřichovice in Central Bohemia. It was the first opportunity for our new ambassadors from Karlovarsky and Ustecky region to meet with the other volunteers from all over the Czech Republic and become members of our community.

The purpose of the meeting was to settle the activities in the new electoral period. First, we introduced priorities and plans for Rekonstrukce státu for the next 4 years. Then we did a workshop with the ambassadors, where we asked them about their motivation for volunteering in our organization and we discussed possible ways to include them in the effort to build transparent state administration. We agreed on several events based on the debates with politicians - in the parliament, discussion with the government political parties about the anti-corruption laws, informal meetings in pubs etc. The ambassadors pointed out the need for citizenship education. We plan to continue with the workshops for high schools and we will also create workshops for elderly clubs which will be run by ambassadors. The events will take place all over the country, so Karlovarsky and Ustecky regions will be included. 

During the event, the volunteers had an opportunity to discuss with senators David Smoljak and Renata Chmelová. In the past, both of these senators were local activists who tried to solve different problems of their municipal districts. They have not planned to become politicians, but their activities led to it. They shared their experiences from both sides as activists as well senators. 

"knighting" of new volunteers by senators

We got positive feedback on the meeting, all the participants were satisfied. We hope it will motivate our new members and that we will meet them at our future events.

 

Rekonstrukce státu on Nov. 15, 2021
Impact Story

Civic lobbying workshops

In September 2021 we carried out the most important part of our project. We organized two workshops with focus on civic lobbying - one in Karlovy Vary on 14th SEP and one in Ústí nad Labem on 16th SEP. 

Our preparations started in spring when we set the content of the workshops. We decided to divide the workshops into two parts. The first part consists of clarifying the concept of civic lobbying and teaching the participants how to start with it. The second part is a discussion between participants and regional politicians - members of the regional council. The main goal of these events is to dismantle barriers between the citizens and politicians and show both sides that mutual communication is important and effective. We invited the representatives of all political parties elected into the representative assembly. The invitation was accepted by 5 from 7 representatives in Karlovarský region and 4 from 8 in Ústecký region, but in reality, 3 representatives came to discuss in both cities. 

We did both an online and outdoor campaign to promote our workshops and involve the participants. We had advertisements in local newspapers, buses and several public spaces. We contacted all local communities and NNO and personally visited crucial institutions and businesses in both cities and invited them. 

We had 10 participants in the workshop in Karlovy Vary. Some of them were local activists, some of them were citizens who were interested in politics. The main topics in discussion with politicians were transport and city planning. The benefit was that 2 politicians from 3 are the mayors as well and were able to show their experience with local politics as well. 

Workshop in Karlovy Vary

In Ústí nad Labem we had 8 participants. The structure was the same, we met some local activists as well as citizens. The main topics in the discussion were high-speed railways in the region and region renewal. Despite the political representatives being from different parts of the political spectrum, the discussion was calm and without any quarrels. One of the politicians mentioned that he was sceptical about his participation in the workshop but he is surprised by how helpful the discussion is for him and he appreciated that he got the opinion from citizens which he will never get without this event. 

Workshop in Ústí nad Labem

The disappointment for us was the number of participants. We wanted to have 30 participants in both workshops. Despite massive promotion and all our efforts, we had one-third of the participants we wanted. The lack of interest is typical for this region as well for this time - mobilization of the citizens is more difficult after the pandemic than before. 

In October we will organize a meeting for all our volunteers from all over the country. We hope that as well the newly recruited volunteers from these regions will participate.

 

Rekonstrukce státu on Oct. 20, 2021
Road to impact

The beginning of our journey

Peripheral regions in our country exhibit the lowest voter turn-out (40 % in Karlovarský and Ústecký in the 2017 general election). Citizens there often distrust parliamentary democracy and feel overlooked by politicians on both the local and state level. For that reason, we decided to realize the project Pre-election lobbying accelerator as part of our campaign for the run-up to the 2021 general elections. We want to recruit citizens in Karlovarský and Ústecký region and equip them for a successful dialogue with political parties, so they can share their stories and help mobilize voters.

Our partner NGO Oživení cooperates with regional activists across the country. They provide us with contacts on the local activists' group which help us recruit citizens. Our expertise is in civic lobbying. We will educate our newly recruited volunteers, support them in communication with politicians and involve them in all our activities. Our team is created by the coordinator of volunteers in Rekonstrukce statu, PR team members, head of supporter services and project supervisor. 

We aim to train about 60 citizens in civic lobbying and encourage them to actively solve both local and state topics. We hope that 15 of them will stay with us as long term volunteers and help us with enforcing anti-corruption laws. 

Our preparation took place in spring 2021. The pandemic situation did not enable us to organize the live events in regions, so we did an online campaign to recruit citizens in both regions to train them online. We got 7 people who decided to become our new volunteers and went through our training. We start to plan all our live events which will take place in autumn 2021.

One of our banners for Facebook

Rekonstrukce státu on Oct. 14, 2021

Team

Rekonstrukce státu

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

Write comment