In the weekend of the 16-18 of September ’16 VVD Member of Parliament in the Netherlands, Hayke Veldman together with D66 Campaign Manager Annelou van Egmond travelled to Slovenia for a training session organised by the European Liberal Forum (ELF). During this session, liberal political parties from the Liberal South East European Network (LIBSEEN) came together to discuss and exchange information about campaigning with the trainers.
Because campaigning is at the core of what political parties do, it is very important to help these young liberal parties to reach their potential and enable them to win votes. With the training sessions by Hayke Veldman, Elemdin Kurtovic (NDI) and Annelou van Egmond these parties are able to make a step in the right direction.
On Friday the trainers and participants were welcomed by ELF President Felicita Medved. After this heartwarming welcome the group was addressed by keynote speaker Mitja Horvat who is a Member of Parliament for the Slovenian Modern Centre Party (SMC). The party was established in 2014 and only six weeks after this establishment the SMC received 34,6% of the votes in the national parliamentary elections in the same year. This made the SMC the leading party in the coalition with the Social Democrats and the Democratic Party for Pensioners of Slovenia. With two years of preparation time until the next parliamentary elections, Mr. Horvat stressed the importance and relevance of the training session on campaigning. The first training was provided by Annelou van Egmond. She taught the participants about the value of having a well-functioning campaign team and how this should be organised. Her training concluded the first day of the event.
On Saturday, Elemedin Kurtovic from the National Democratic Institute (NDI), started the day by giving a training about data-driven campaign planning and strategy. This is an important issue for the attending liberal political parties, because most of them are still quite young and need to firstly gather data about their voters and secondly implement a system to keep this information up-to-date. The second training of the day was provided by Member of Parliament Hayke Veldman (VVD) and comprised the issues of campaign messaging and communication. This tied in well with the first presentation of the day, as Mr. Veldman focused on what issues are important for the voters and what issues are also important to the liberal parties’ ideology. The participants had to complete several assignments, thereby using their ‘liberal compass’ in determining their primary messages and think about how to send them. The participants were quite enthusiastic and came up with some useful ideas and results. The last training of the day was about grassroots campaigning and GOTV operation, provided by Annelou van Egmond.
On the last day the participants had to put the theory they learned in the past days into practice. The assignment was to come up with their own campaign plan, focusing on either a time-frame, which messages they were going to use during their campaign or to think about data-collection and reaching out to voters. Later on, the different liberal parties from the different countries presented their plan to the group. All in all the weekend was very fruitful in terms of helping these young liberal parties with thinking about effective campaigning and sharing knowledge on this issue among each other.