Young Democrats Frederique Soh and Clarence Zeng attended a workshop in St Petersburg, Russia to learn more about effective political campaigning.
The workshop, held from 6 – 8 Dec conducted by the Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC) and hosted by the Russian United Democratic Party (YABLOKO), saw a diversity of party delegates and activists from Cuba, Venezuela, Tunisia, Egypt, Lithuania, Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and Sweden.
At the course, the delegates were given a primer on the basic foundations of a political campaign. YABLOKO Youth, also gave a presentation of the unique campaigns that they have run in St. Petersburg.
Participants from Belarus, Venezuela, Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine and Tunisia also presented their electoral campaigns in 2012, while the rest proceeded on to present their most recent successful political campaign.
Notably, Safa Doghri, a medical doctor and activist in Tunisia, spoke of her campaign for the transitional justice system in her country: “Even though there is a huge number of things to do in Tunisia, we take things one at a time, and ensure that the campaign’s cause goes through successfully.”
The course proceeded with a tour of the Parliament House in St Petersburg, and YABLOKO’s office in St Petersburg, where Maxim Reznik, a St Petersburg MP, talked about the initiative to stop the building of a skyscraper in St Petersburg.
The campaign strikes a familiar tone with our local effort to prevent the removal of the Bukit Brown Cemetery, and the OldSchool in downtown Singapore. (
Over the duration of the course, participants were able to see the similar difficulties that the ruling regime has placed upon them. The issues of vote-buying, threats, media blackouts during electoral campaigns were terms all too familiar with each and everyone. There were also campaigns presented by the activists, whose causes and progress bear a close resemblance with the campaigns held in the participants’ own countries.
The participants understand that representatives of these regimes often visit each other to find out ways to ensure that their way of governance will not be broken down by efforts pushed through by the people.
Similarly the oppressed will find a way to stand in solidarity, and push against this tide.
The course was a very good example of ideas being exchanged between people of different origins, to fight against similar forms of oppression.
The course was also a good chance to find out from the participants, first hand, the political situations in their countries. Young Democrat, Clarence Zeng remarked, “The course was an eye-opener.
Even though the participants were far apart geographically, we were able to relate to each others’ struggle for free and fair elections in our own counties.”