chapter  4
19 Pages

Examining international political party aid


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This recent expansion of political party aid has occurred in two phases. The first occurred in the 1990s and was primarily fuelled by the opening up of Central and Eastern Europe to political party assistance (and democracy aid generally). Both American and European parties, party foundations and party institutes saw in post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe a compelling opportunity for extending their work. The US party institutes hurried in the years immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall to set up programmes to support the new pro-democratic parties emerging in the region, out of concern that without external assistance these parties might be pushed off the stage by adaptive former communists building successor parties out of the financial, administrative, and human resources of the old communist parties. European parties and party aid organisations also moved into the region, slowly at first, then on a large scale across the decade, attracted by the sense of rediscovered political solidarity with a part of Europe long cut off from the West, ideological similarities of many post-communist parties to Western European parties, and the relative ease of working in a closely neighbouring region. Many new European party foundations were established in the 1990s, in France, Sweden, the Netherlands, and elsewhere, to respond to this opportunity and to expand European party aid more generally. Both US and European party organisations also began working in sub-Saharan Africa in these years, especially in southern Africa, as transitions to multipartyism in many African countries led to a multiplication of new parties and many opportunities for new partnerships and co-operation.