International Academy for Leadership
Towards a Better Government: Local Politics and Citizen's Participation

IAF Seminar "Local Politics and Citizen's Participation", Gummersbach, 3 - 15 September 2017
Participants of IAF Seminar "Local Politics and Citizen's Participation"
Participants of IAF Seminar "Local Politics and Citizen's Participation" © FNF Indonesia

I feel so lucky for the opportunity to attend IAF Seminar “Local Politics and Citizen’s Participation” in Gummersbach, 3 – 15 September 2017.  All of these activities gave me the new knowledge and valuable experiences, some of them are; I got new friends from several countries and different background. I got the chance to exchange the information with them and obtain new perspective to solve the problem in their country.

In this seminar, a two-week seminar we focused on local government politics and liberalism: Why is local government politics important for liberals and what kind of liberal policy approach can be applied for local politics. Ideas for local government reform include the concept of ‘New Public Management’:

  1. Participation as an element of good governance at a local level: different instruments of formal and non-formal participation.
  2. Participation as a success strategy for political parties and organizations, communication techniques and how citizens and liberal local activists can use online media tools such as social media platforms and online forums to enhance participation and mobilize support for their ideals.

We also engaged in practical training that looks at how we can strengthen our communication skills and use them to improve performance of local politics, political parties and civil society. I have some views and experiences about local politics and liberalism from others participants as well as the external contributors. There are various methods in this seminar, including working groups, simulation exercises and practical individual training. The seminar covered ideas on a necessary framework for a functioning local government sector. Nevertheless we also discussed practical concepts on how to work successfully at a local level in given situations with numerous limitations beyond the decision making power of councilors and mayors.

Presentation session
© FNF Indonesia

Participants of this seminar also came from various backgrounds such as: 1) Active liberal local government politicians like councilors, mayors or representatives of local party branches. 2) Representatives of liberal NGOs and citizen groups who focus in particular on the local level. 3) Politicians or individuals involved with issues of local government. 4) Functionaries of liberal political parties who are involved in training of local politicians or consolidating party structures on local level.

Resource Person
Participants from diverse backgrounds

Some Program in the seminar Local Politics and Citizen’s Participation :

  • Local government politics and liberalism.

We discussed about local self-administration, subsidiarity, decentralization and participation liberal concepts in working groups. When we discussed about achievements / best practice examples and deficits / needs in our countries, I am glad that Indonesia have democratic system which is relatively better than other countries (for example election system).

  • Reform ideas for local government

We also discussed about how to create a citizen oriented, efficient, democratic and responsible (non-corrupt) local administration; what are our priorities as liberal politicians and how can we implement them according to the principles.

  • Participation as an element of good governance on local level

We discussed about formal and informal means of citizens’ participation; participation in the digital age (new media tools, cell phones etc.)  Information rights, initiative rights and decision rights. The interesting part is how we can enhance this great idea to develop in Indonesia.

  • The importance of effective communication – listening (engaging and communicating)

We practiced (by contest with recorded and working group) to strengthen our communication skills and use them to improve performance (practical training focusing on a variety of communication platforms including online media). We also discussed about how we use local media, both traditional and new media to communicate with our residents – what are the most effective ways of communicating with our residents as a local government but also as individual liberal politicians. 

  • Local politics, political parties and civil society.

We discussed about how can we use participation and citizen orientation as instruments to increase political success, what does this mean for structures and strategies of political parties and local government level as a particular chance for opposition parties to switch voting patterns.

Thank you for the experience, International Academy for Leadership!

Excursion to Cologne

*This contributed article is written by the Indonesian Delegate for IAF Seminar, Mr. Ainul Arif who works as the Chief of Dewan Kordinasi Nasional [DKN] (National Coordinating Board) of Garda Bangsa (the youth wing) of Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa [PKB] (the National Awakening Party).