The Network of Social Democracy in Asia (Socdem Asia) provides a platform for developing progressive discourse and deepening the practice of democratic values amongst sister political parties, progressive politicians, academicians and activists within the region. Regular regional conferences are convened to discuss pressing crosscutting issues and develop alternative and progressive policies. Exchanges among member parties and organizations also a happen at the country level through various political programs and a variety of tailor-suited training workshops depending on the needs of a particular sister political organization.
Through SOCDEM Asia, member parties Akbayan Citizens Action Party (AKBAYAN) -Philippines, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) - Malaysia and Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente (FRETILIN) have teamed-up for a series of experience exchange and capacity building trainings for Juventud Fretilin leaders, and the education committee members of the women wing and members of the Party. This collaboration aims to further develop the FRETILIN Party and its youth wing’s education and training program.
Last August 5-7, Trainers from Akbayan and DAP facilitated a Youth Leadership Training at the Party Headquarters. The Training included basic political education and capacity-building sessions which aimed to build strategic relationships among young progressives in East Timor.
Through this first political management training, participants acquired knowledge and skills to be able to train fellow young progressives in their respective countries using new content and methods. The participants also recognized the partnership and cooperation built among them during the training which could yield cross-country sharing and solidarity work.
The topics presented included a brief introduction of both sister parties – Akbayan Youth and DAP Malaysia, principles of social democracy and practices (citing examples of Penang, Malaysia), campaign advocacy, effective leadership, political communications and methods to strengthen party organizations while strengthening international solidarity between all three parties.
Juventude Fretilin was officially founded in June 2016 and recognized as the youth wing of the Fretilin party. The creation was a response to the need to recruit more Timorese youth into the party and especially, to develop them as new cadres and leaders. Additionally, the youth wing will play an active role in reaching out to young voters within the party as well as outside. Timor Leste is a newly independent nation and has a relatively young population. While Fretilin remains one of the biggest and most established political parties in East Timor, it has faced setbacks during the last elections. Fretilin is gearing up to ensure its electoral victory in 2017.
While the Presidential and Parliamentary elections are both slated to be held next year, Fretilin is conducting an internal national elections for party leadership in September 2016. Thus, roughly 200,000 members are expected to cast their votes for two vital positions within Fretilin – party President and Secretary General.
According to one party leader, the unique voting process provides each member direct power to elect national leadership, hence providing mandate and reinforcing legitimacy to the leadership. In addition to that, the party’s internal election is a show of force by the party as it marches up towards victory in the national elections next year.