People Power - Transition in Belarus
During the process of transition towards a stable democratic political system, elections are a crucial moment. The way they are carried out defines the level of legitimacy governments can generate. Until today, still many governments rule on a basis of doubtful legitimacy and the political debates, especially during election campaigns, lack a democratic culture and are focused on populist statements rather than a political debate on issues. Ruling parties use their influence to refuse the opposition access to media and the opposition often focuses on accusations rather than alternative political approaches. Also, often former opposition parties which gain power, continue to use doubtful actions, which they complained about before. Therefore, a broad understanding of democratic culture and procedures is needed in the whole society. Elections are here a crucial benchmark. Thus the main goal of this workshop was to promote a democratic political culture and pluralism as well as the raise of awareness for free and fair elections within society. In order to prepare a basis for a fruitful discussion and to stimulate new ideas, we used the method of simulation gaming. The method provides the participants with a riskless environment in which they can first test new actions and second have to deal with their unintended effects and with the reactions of other “players”. Due to the experiences within the simulation game the different actions were evaluated concerning their effectiveness, followed by a discussion on how those could/should be strategically arranged to have greatest possible impact.
This workshop focused on Belarus oppositional political parties youth wings between 20 and 30. According to the overall learning goal the participants could also affiliated to a civil society organization and had already had some experience in cooperating with national authorities, other CSOs and external donors. Moreover the participants had the potential to spread the new knowledge among their colleagues and other civil society actors. As the main outcome was generated during discussions, the participants should be communicative and open minded. The workshop was held in Russian.
The overall goal of this workshop was to get a deeper understanding of democratic culture and procedures and the possibilities available in the forefront of elections. First the participants got some input, including best practice examples and then got the chance to modify those and try them out during the simulation game. In the end the participants had gained knowledge about a set of possible actions with many variants. Due to the playful element of the simulation game they gained confidence and thus motivation to apply the experiences to real life circumstances. Assisting to that is the evaluation of the simulation game, in which the participants discussed a chronological and coordinated order of actions. Further they had a much clearer picture on eventual reactions and how to deal with those. By this the participants encouraged to at least consider taking actions. In attending this workshop the participants further enhanced their personal skills, due to the simulation game, such as: self-learning, social, methodical and cultural skills.