From March 14 through March 21, 2015, a group of 7 Cambodian politicians, including two women, visited Germany. The group was composed by 6 parliament members and the deputy director of the Public Relations Department of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). The participants are members of the parliamentary committees led by the CNRP. The CNRP is the only opposition party with 44% of votes, versus the ruling Cambodia Popular Party with 48% of votes. The topic of the 1-week academic trip was “The Constructive Role of Opposition Work in the Parliament”.
The primary goal of the visiting program focused on getting acquainted with and discussing those instruments employed by the Parliamentary opposition’s work in Germany, as well as particularly knowing the work performed by the committees led by the opposition.
This visit included Berlin, Brandenburg/Potsdam, and North Rhine-Westfalia/Düsseldorf. Our Cambodian visitors learned first about politics, state administration, federal system, and the panorama of the political parties in the Federal Republic of Germany. Particularly significant was for them the opposition work and the efforts conducted by committees in the following areas: politics, human rights, fight against corruption, health, budget, education, as well as press and public relations work at federal, regional, and municipal levels. They also exchanged experiences with their German peers about the parliamentary work. The culminating part of the trip was the visit to the German Federal Parliament in the Reichstag Building in Berlin.
The study group visited the headquarters of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, where they received information about the liberal-oriented work performed internationally by our Foundation.
At the end of the academic trip, all the participants were very satisfied with the obtained results. Topics such as politics and state administration, party structure, media work, education, health, etc. were greatly welcomed. They thanked the Foundation for the organization and opportunity to make the trip; they will use the knowledge acquired to perform their political activities in Cambodia, in order to foster freedom and more democracy in their country.
by Sophanna Khim and Hans-Georg Jonek
A great and unusual distinction was awarded to the Project Office Argentina of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, and its counterpart “Red Ser Fiscal” (“Be an Observer” Network) on March 20, 2015. The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis I, received both institutions in a private meeting in the Vatican.
Since 2009 the Foundation for Freedom cooperates with “Be an Observer”, a network engaged with transparent electoral processes within the electoral observation field. Once important elections have concluded, “Be an Observer” posts its results which not only draw high attention levels in Argentina.
During the 30-minute meeting, Francis praised the effort from both institutions and emphasized the importance of free, fair elections in a democracy. It is important, particularly in Argentina, that civil society, NGOs, and also international organizations, such as the Foundation for Freedom, advocate for transparent elections and against corruption, and do not delegate such tasks to the monopoly of state institutions. In this regard, the head of the Catholic Church stated that nowadays electoral manipulation has deeply spread, which could lead to a “white coup”.
At last, the Foundation’s project director emphasized that the Foundation for Freedom has been promoting for over 30 years the democratization process in Argentina, and advocating for transparent, free elections, and against manipulation and corruption. In view of the upcoming elections, and from a liberal standpoint, possibilities for a political and government change could clearly emerge.
This meeting with the head of the Catholic Church constitutes an early highlight of the multi-day visiting program that the group will complete afterwards in Brussels. Argentineans will meet there with the Vice-President of the EU Parliament, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff; other ALDE Group representatives in the European Parliament, and high-ranking experts of the EU Commission, among others.
by Jörg Dehnert
Project Director (Argentina), Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom