In theory, political parties play a central role within well-functioning democracies, aggregating and representing citizens’ interests and formulating policy agendas that can respond to citizens’ concerns. In practice, in many countries – especially developing countries – political parties are weak and disconnected from the policy process, and struggle to connect with or represent citizens and their interests. Despite these understandable sensitivities about intervening in processes that are clearly political, donors are increasingly aware that political parties need to be part of the jigsaw of effective governance, and are in the process of working out how best to provide support for political parties and party systems.
This research looks at a range of donor practice in this area, with case studies of donor support to political parties in Georgia, Nepal, Nigeria, Uganda and desk-based reviews of some Latin American experiences. It aims to draw out some initial lessons in terms of what more effective support in this field might look like, and to develop operational recommendations moving forward.