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ALPI Inspires Pre-Election Collaboration in Polarized Balkan Region

On December 5, the International Republican Institute (IRI) brought together youth leaders from across the Balkans to promote cross-border solidarity in the first-ever regional Advanced Leadership in Politics Institute (ALPI) meeting. Through ALPI, IRI gives young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Montenegro and Serbia the skills to build relationships despite their ideological differences and facilitate pro-democracy dialogue.  Since 2018, ALPI has facilitated workshops, lectures, seminars and events that encourage collaboration and compromise amongst young people – and have won the support of its participants, who report positive interactions with peers of different backgrounds.

With the inaugural regional ALPI meeting in just a few days, the International Republican Institute (IRI) is training a spotlight on our commitment to promoting cross-party collaboration in the country and across the Balkans – a critical step in consolidating the region’s democratic gains.

Here is a look at the democratic milestones ALPI has helped catalyze across the region:

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Since ALPI Bosnia was established in 2018, it has engaged young leaders in 15 political parties across the country.  Today in Bosnia, ALPI has helped secure a major democratic milestone ahead of the November 15 parliamentary elections through its “Ready to Run” Initiative, which engaged 13 ALPI members in individual training sessions and prepared them to manage democratic campaigns. After the training sessions concluded, ALPI members described the program as extremely useful, helping them to navigate the pre-electoral period as a candidate and ensure the democratic integrity of the election. Candidates were grateful for the customized expert feedback on their campaign strategies and answers to their questions and concerns, even citing that their own local leaders had never provided them with an experience like this.

Montenegro

Through ALPI workshops, one participant improved his public speaking skills and political savvy to such an extent that he was elected to the main board of his party and has gone on to prioritize Montenegro’s democratic growth in this capacity. Another Montenegro participant co-authored an article with a BiH ALPI member regarding EU accession, an important conversation for both nations which he was unable to have without ALPI connections. Through their work, both Montenegro and Bosnia are one step closer to realizing the countries’ Euro-Atlantic aspirations and advancing democratic values in the Balkans.

Serbia

In Serbia, ALPI equipped alumni Ognjen Savic with the tools needed to help ensure the democratic integrity of the country’s May 2020 municipal elections. Drawing from the skills he gleaned through ALPI workshops, Savic became Election Coordinator for his region, training 50 poll watchers and municipal branch leaders for election day. Prior to ALPI, his political party lacked enough signatures to even earn a spot on the ballot, and now Savic has successfully elevated the mission of his party and has become a democratic leader himself.

Over the past years, ALPI has had outstanding success in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro and is committed to expanding across the region, with plans to initiate a North Macedonia chapter soon. As the institute grows, ALPI will continue to support participants to become democratic leaders in the region by adapting to today’s world and providing training in digital campaigning and collaboration. With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, IRI is dedicated to connecting members virtually across party lines and borders alike.