KAS Holds First Asian Political Parties Workshop Manila



December 9-10, 2005 the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in cooperation with the Centrist Democrat International Asia Pacific (CDI) held the First Asian Political Parties Workshop on Efficient Party Management in Manila to provide technical expertise to and facilitate cross-border communication and knowledge exchange among Asian political parties.

In his keynote address on The Importance of Political Party Dialogue in Asia, Speaker Jose De Venecia, Jr. pointed out that the time might be right for political parties in Asia to get together to solve the big problems in Asia - like the widening rich-poor gap. Political parties must take an active and central role on the issues facing the region, “be responsive to and responsible for the needs of the people they seek to represent,” De Venecia argued, for while “Governments rise and fall, political parties have a longer life span.” If political parties take a long-term view on their internal and external development, they can form the bedrock of not just a stable, peaceful, and democratic country but an entire region. It might also be time, De Venecia argued, for the parties to look into establishing a common currency, not to mention, an Asian Parliament. De Venecia lauded the Workshop for providing an intimate setting for party managers from all over the region to meet and learn from each other, adding that it provided a perfect complement to his own project – the International Conference on Asian Political Parties, held every two years and attended by close to 80 political parties.

The introductory session featured Prof. Dr. Günther Burkert-Dottolo who, speaking on the Ingredients of Efficient Political Party Management, gave the ten commandments of campaigning and the fundamentals of party leadership, issue management and political communication. Mr. Timo Grunden speaking on The Importance of Political Parties in a Party Democracy described political parties as the “linkage between politics and civil society.” With respect to the electorate, political parties in party democracies “simplify electoral choices, make politics user-friendly”. As an organization within a party democracy, parties “recruit and train political leaders, articulate and aggregate political interests.” With respect to the role of parties in governance, Grunden pointed out that parties implement policy projects when in power, offer alternatives when in the opposition, and provide stability in governance where there is frequent leadership change.

Subsequent panels focused on Party Platform and Programmes, Party Organization and Financing and Communications and Campaigning.

Participants in the conference included Mr. Danny Coronacion, Deputy Secretary General for International Affairs, LAKAS-CMD, Philippines; H.E. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, Cambodian Peoples Party; H.E. Randeep Singh Surjewala, Cabinet Minister, National Congress Party, Government of Haryana, India; Mr. Buranaj Smutharaks, MP, Democrat Party, Thailand; Hon. Marides Fernando, Mayor, Marikina City, LAKAS-CMD, Philippines; Mrs. Thippaporn Tantisunthorn, Director, Institute of Public Policy Studies (IPPS), Thailand; H.E. Congressman Roseller L. Batianga, 2nd District Zamboanga Del Norte, National People’s Coalition, Philippines; H.E. Sam Rainsy, President, Sam Rainsy Party, Cambodia; M.V.K.K. Weragoda, General Secretary, United National Party, Sri Lanka; Mr. Manuel Quezon, Columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines; Hon. Amarjagal Rinchinnyam, MP, Democratic Party of Mongolia, Mongolia; H.E. Ung Huot, Deputy Secretary General, Funcinpec Party, Kingdom of Cambodia; Mr. Pawan Khera, OSD & Political Secretary to Chief Minister of Delhi, Indian National Congress, India.

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