Campaigning for the MDGs: Making Votes and Voices Count in Elections

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National and sub-national elections provide important opportunities to establish, reaffirm or redirect development priorities. This short guidebook describes how and why the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be important to this process—towards the larger end of achieving human development and a better, more equitable world.

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Campaigning for the MDGs: Making Votes and Voices Count in Elections

  1. 1. Campaigning for the MDGs: Making Votes and Voices Count in Elections A Toolkit for Activists, Political Parties and Candidates
  2. 2. Preface In the year 2000, heads of 189 national governments agreed to meet eight goals that will halve extreme poverty by 2015 – the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are a unique, international agreement that are time-bound, measurable and have the public commitment of virtually every Head of State. All eight MDGs are achievable by 2015, but only if governments live up to their promises. The UN Millennium Campaign is an inter-agency initiative of the UN formed to mobilise citizens around the world to hold their governments to account for reaching the MDGs. Working in more than 30 poor and rich countries, the Campaign partners with a range of stakeholders from the international to the local level to inspire citizens’ movements for the achievement of the MDGs. The last decade has seen many countries opting to follow a democratic system of government. This would imply that the will of the people will now prevail in all these countries. In reality, however, a majority of poor countries continue to be ruled by a narrow elite, and very limited socio-economic benefits trickle down to a significant proportion of the population who continue to be poor and excluded. But despite the power of money, muscle and misinformation, elections remain one of the most important opportunities when the poor can exercise the power of their large numbers as voters and extract some commitments from the political class. Many of the UN Millennium Campaign’s partners, who are citizens’ groups from Bangladesh and India to Australia and the United States, have successfully used elections to get political parties, presidential candidates and members of parliament to make commitments toward achieving the MDGs. Once in office, citizens’ groups have used these electoral pledges to hold their leaders accountable. Over the last few years, we have seen that elections at the national and sub-national levels present a unique opportunity to enhance accountability of elected leaders to their constituents as well as for leaders to define and promote their platform, while drawing extensive media attention to the MDGs. This guidebook has distilled this important experience in order to provide others who want to use this strategy with some helpful guidance. It outlines various MDG campaign initiatives related to elections and draws concrete lessons for MDG campaigning in the electoral process. This guidebook was developed under the overall guidance of Mr. Minar Pimple, the Deputy Director, Asia Pacific, UN Millennium Campaign. Ms. Gretchen Luchsinger was the principal author. Ms. Ryce Chanchai oversaw the structure and content development and facilitated the review process. Substantive contributions were received from Ms. Pauline Tamesis, Regional Governance Programme Coordinator of UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok. I hope this modest document can support those who want to help realise the fundamental human rights of a large majority of the world’s poorest and socially and politically excluded people, using the MDGs as the point of departure. Salil Shetty Director United Nations Millennium Campaign
  3. 3. Contents Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 What are the MDGs? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Why do the goals matter during elections? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 On the following pages you’ll find… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Chapter I: Before the Election, Part 1: Considering Your Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 First, deciding to take the plunge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Overcoming scepticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 It’s politics… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Political and electoral systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Assessing the political environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Taking the Pulse of Voters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Weighing election risks and opportunities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Working alone or together? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Types of coalitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Know the law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Chapter II: Before the Election, Part 2: Formulating a Plan for Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 What’s in a successful campaign strategy? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Define what you want to achieve. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Define your target audience(s). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Identify who might work on the campaign. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Determine your message(s). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Figure out where you will reach your target audience(s). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Match people to convey your message(s) with your target audiences. . . . . . . . . . . 25 Pay attention to timing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Develop a plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Chapter III: During the Election, Part 1: The Art of Campaign Advocacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Educate—and advocate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Ask for more . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Be prepared for trade-offs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Start with what’s already acceptable. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
  4. 4. Go for the bold and unexpected—in a calculated way. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Think creatively . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Balance realism and optimism, like the MDGs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Appeal to the head and heart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Have evidence in hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Weigh the front page vs. the back door. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Think in terms of partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Banning landmines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Chapter IV: During the Election, Part 2: Outreach to Major Players. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Engaging with politicians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Preparing for advocacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Striking a balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Going directly to voters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Voter types and tactics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Points in the electoral cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Extra considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Working through the media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Being strategic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Managing media relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Remembering other political actors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Chapter V: After the Election: Maintaining Momentum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Onward and forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Taking time for evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 The true measure of election promises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Chapter VI: Political Campaigns: Bringing the MDGs on Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Will your constituents care about the MDGs? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Potential benefits: legitimacy and outreach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 What is your track record? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 How you can use the MDGs in your campaign. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 How you can use the MDGs once in office . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
  5. 5. A Toolkit for Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Tool 1: Tracking Patterns in Political Decision-Making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Tool 2: Selecting Issues with Political Momentum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Tool 3: Working Together: Making Participation Meaningful . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Tool 4: Stakeholder Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Tool 5: More on Messages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Tool 6: Options for Campaign Actions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Tool 7: Through a Gender Lens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Tool 8: Making Your Case: Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Tool 9: Tips for Meeting with Candidates. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Tool 10: A Checklist for Media Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Tool 11: The Basics of Press Releases, Kits and Conferences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Tool 12: Decoding Public Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Tool 13: Briefly, On the Budget . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
  6. 6. Campaign Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Box 1.1 The MDGs on the Campaign Trail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Box 2.1 The MDGs in Europe: Goal 8 Achievements and Lessons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Box 2.2 Rewording the MDGs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Box 3.1 Two Global Success Stories: Mines and Debt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Box 3.2 Creative Campaigning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Box 3.3 Nepal: The Power of the Personal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Box 3.4 Africa: Making a Point with Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Box 3.5 Partnerships in Standing Up Against Poverty. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Box 4.1 Recommendations—From Politicians to Advocates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Box 4.2 South Africa: A Challenge to Deliver on HIV Treatment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Box 4.3 Timor L’este: “I Can” Increase Women’s Political Participation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Box 4.4 An EU Campaign Argues for Parity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Box 4.5 Collecting Voter Input: The All India People’s Manifesto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Box 4.6 Moving Past Political Clientelism to a (Genuinely) Pro-Poor Agenda . . . . . . . . 57 Box 4.7 The United States: Setting New Directions on Climate Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Box 4.8 Nepal: Outreach Through Inspirational Street Performances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Box 5.1 Five Million People Say NO to Violence against Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Box 5.2 Mexico: Transforming the “Language of Power” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Box 5.3 The Philippines: Improving Accountability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Box 6.1 The Changing Nature of Election Campaign Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Box 6.2 Mongolia: A Governance MDG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
  7. 7. © Carlo Marco M. Simpao © Teresa Encarnação
  8. 8. Introduction N ational and sub-national elections provide important opportunities to establish, reaffirm or redirect development priorities. This short guidebook describes how and why the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be important to this process—towards the larger end of achieving human development and a better, more equitable world. The book is primary intended for civil society representatives interested in MDG advocacy during elections, although it has also been designed as a resource for political parties and candidates. It walks readers through basic strategies and tools to campaign for the goals, and lay the groundwork for political commitments to specific development achievements. But first, two basic questions must be answered: What are the MDGs? And why exactly do they matter during elections? What are the MDGs?
  9. 9. In short, the MDGs offer eight ways to change the world. Most national governments and the international community have adopted the goals as commitments to: • Ending extreme poverty and hunger • Achieving universal primary education • Promoting gender equality and empowering women • Reducing child mortality • Improving maternal health • Combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases • Ensuring environmental sustainability • Developing a global partnership for development The MDGs are linked to a high-level international political agreement—the Millennium Declaration, signed by leaders from 189 countries in 2000. The declaration endorses important framework principles such as freedom, equality, shared responsibility and human rights. Both national government signatories and the international community have obligations to strive to reach the goals, including by providing sufficient resources. Each goal has specific targets and indicators to guide progress under a 2015 timeframe for achievement. This makes them highly practical tools for both advocates and policy makers in articulating a vision for development and planning the steps to achieve it. The goals encapsulate several decades of national and international debate on what the most important, basic entry points for development need to be. They are both universal—we 2 all need health care and education, for example—and adaptable to different environments. They specify broad objectives, meaning that each country and even locality can decide the specifics of how to get there, across diverse political and economic systems. Progress in achieving the MDGs involves everyone. Politicians, civil society representatives of all stripes, private sector concerns, members of households—all have something to offer. Everyone also benefits from accomplishing the MDGs, because they are about creating societies that are more stable, equitable and well off. For more details on both the goals and the Millennium Declaration, see the Resources section at the end of this book.
  10. 10. Why do the goals matter during elections? When the MDGs enjoy high visibility in an election, through civil society advocacy or under the umbrellas of political campaigns, they connect politics to the real issues in people’s lives. Voters can chose the people they want in office on the basis of support for development objectives that matter to them. In casting a ballot, they weigh in on public policy directions, the adequacy of public service delivery and the allocation of resources. Campaigning for the goals also provides opportunities to raise public awareness about the MDGs, and discuss specific local and national actions to attain them. Political commitment to new policies or resources can form and grow, paving the way for follow up once the polls close and newly elected politicians take office. All of these possibilities help solidify the foundations of democratic governance, such as political responsiveness and transparency. When interest and participation in an election grows—because people can see the outcome relates to them—political legitimacy is bolstered as well. The widespread appeal of the MDGs makes them a natural fit for election campaigns. While they encapsulate complex development processes, they are framed in a straightforward manner that can easily be translated into communications tools and strategies tailored to a variety of audiences. Civil society groups may campaign for the goals through media outreach, rallies, voter education and/or face-to-face meetings with candidates, among other options. Politicians can turn to them to make new connections with constituencies, 3 including through MDG commitments in political platforms. For both civil society groups and politicians, the MDGs are a unifying theme that can draw people together around common purposes—even in relatively divisive political climates. Candidates may not agree on the same approaches to achieving the goals, but they can endorse them as overarching human development objectives important to most constituents. Civil society groups might not normally work on the same issues, but they can come together to make a concerted joint push for a broad framework that will accommodate and strengthen them all. On the following pages you’ll find… The book has been formulated by the UN Millennium Campaign, which supports and inspires people from around the world to take action in support of the MDGs. In this process, it helps citizens hold national and sub-national governments accountable for delivering development progress.
  11. 11. The following pages draw on the experiences of the campaign, as well as other national and international advocacy efforts, and the expertise of people in politics, media and public policy. An overarching theme is that advocacy campaigns take many forms, but they all involve people working together on different activities orchestrated to achieve a common outcome. They are most successful when they convince people outside the campaign to take action—to vote, for example, or to support the passage of new legislation. Many issues are covered here; none comprehensively. The book is mainly intended, for what may be the first time, to draw together the different elements required to plan and carry out an MDG campaign during an election. More resources are available and should be consulted on subjects such as political analysis and media outreach. Some options appear here in the References section. The book’s chapters are organized, approximately, around the before, during and after phases of a typical election. Parts of the content may be more appropriate to audiences in developing countries. This was a deliberate choice. Seven of the eight MDGs must be implemented there—and resources like this book are less accessible in some places. That said, Goal 8, which requires action by developed countries, is critical to achieving all the others, so readers in those countries may want to take note of relevant sections of this publication and adapt them accordingly. The first five chapters are mainly geared towards civil society advocates, and the sixth towards political candidates and parties. All chapters, however, contain information that can 4 be valuable to both audiences. To cultivate potential relationships and partnerships, each group may also benefit from learning about the considerations of the other. Chapters I and II highlight pre-election advocacy planning and strategizing. The first chapter explores some basic assessments that should be done before an MDG campaign kicks off, including of political trends and voting patterns. It looks at making the choice to embark on a campaign, and the decision to form a coalition, or not. The second chapter presents the outline of a basic campaign strategy, from defining objectives, target audiences and key messages, to drafting a plan for action. The next two chapters move deeper into campaigning during the election itself, beginning with an elaboration of advocacy techniques in Chapter III. Chapter IV delves into outreach to three major election players: political candidates and parties, voters and members of the media. It highlights possible campaign objectives, messages and actions related to each. Chapter V sketches ways to maintain advocacy momentum after the election is over. Chapter VI, primarily for political candidates and parties, discusses some of the benefits of including the MDGs in election campaigns. It features details on how to use the goals during the campaign and once in office, including to engage voters.
  12. 12. Rounding out this guidebook is a set of tools linked to each chapter. You can consult them as you read through the main text, or together after you finish. Each chapter also contains “Campaign Tales”—boxes illustrating different campaigns or advocacy techniques. Not all of these are strictly tied to elections, but they may spark ideas or provide inspiration as you develop your own campaign strategies. Many demonstrate how much is possible, in all regions of the world, when people come together to hope, plan, act and usher in progressive change. A final note on neutrality: In producing this publication, the UN Millennium Campaign aims to support general democratic political processes, as interpreted within individual countries, and uphold the principles of the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs. The book should in no way be read as an endorsement of particular political parties, candidates or platforms. 5
  13. 13. © UNFPA / Robel Mockonen © Pouya Razavi
  14. 14. Chapter I Before the Election, Part 1: Considering Your Options A n election has been called. Candidates will present their case. Voters will make choices. This first chapter helps civil society advocates explore some basic information and options to consider in launching an MDG advocacy campaign oriented around the electoral process. Since elections are political events from start to finish, many decisions should be linked to a careful initial assessment of prevailing political systems and trends in your country or locality. The MDGs are compatible with a huge variety of these, but you’ll need to know national or local particulars to pursue advocacy that makes a difference. You should also think about the risks and opportunities you may find along the way, and whether you want to work with partners or alone. Useful additional tools at the end of this guide: Tool 1, Tracking Patterns in Political Decision-Making; Tool 2, Selecting Issues with Political Momentum; Tool 3, Working Together: Making Participation Meaningful.
  15. 15. First, deciding to take the plunge The MDGs originated at the United Nations General Assembly. But they will be achieved in countries and localities only if people know about and act on them. Civil society mobilization is key. So is political support. Ask yourself: What difference would it make to my country if the MDGs were achieved? How could that change people’s lives? Is accomplishing the MDGs consistent with the issues my organization is already working on? Is it in line with my own values and beliefs, and those of my organization? If the answers to those questions inspire your interest, then the next question is: What can I hope to achieve by campaigning for the MDGs during an election? The MDGs are a set of basic social and economic goals. From a technocratic standpoint, with their numerical targets and indicators, they are useful tools for development plans and programmes. They are also international and national political commitments. Reaching them is very much about the less technocratic world of politics, where significant choices are made about development priorities and resources. Elections provide an opportunity to champion the goals among politicians and the voting public, and press for political accountability to international, national and/or local development. That means politicians deliver on MDG commitments in concrete ways that 8 help people improve their well-being. This may or may not imply changes in the people and parties in office. People from many different political perspectives already wholeheartedly support the MDGs. But whatever they think or say about the goals, they also need to act to implement them. Some of the ways they can do this include: adopting appropriate public policies, changing laws, aligning national and local development planning, creating necessary institutions and assigning sufficient resources to development programmes. Recommending any of these steps—or others—can become part of an MDG advocacy campaign during an election. Overcoming scepticism Let’s be frank: At the outset, you may face opposition to or scepticism about campaigning for the MDGs—even in your own mind. The goals might seem like some far-off international idea. What real impacts can they have on development in your country? In developed nations, they might be viewed as a relatively minor issue compared to domestic problems. The spreading global economic crisis will likely lead many countries, developed and developing, to shift into short-term economic survival mode, with less immediate thought given to mid- or longer term development investments.
  16. 16. The MDGs, however, are about addressing all of these concerns. The current crisis has underscored just how connected different countries are, for one thing. Market failures in one part of the world now lead quickly to job losses and food insecurity and general instability in other parts. Surviving the damage and thriving once the global downturn begins to reverse requires a steady development foundation like the one encapsulated in the MDGs—both for individual nations and the world at large. Furthermore, the goals come out of a tradition of setting development goals that has a proven track record, both internationally and within individual countries. And they are not set in stone. Countries have the latitude to translate their spirit into more specific, feasible or useful national and/or local goals. The point is to have basic development objectives so you can then get started on achieving them. Another objection you might face may stem from the quality of governance in your country. Most countries suffer from some shortfalls in democracy, such as corruption, personality politics, dominant political elites and/or overly powerful special interests. When obvious failures result—especially in the delivery of peace and security, and the public services that matter most to people’s everyday lives—common fallout can be a pervasive sense of disempowerment among voters and cynicism about how much impact politics can have on development. These are serious obstacles to consider in designing an MDG campaign for an election— while remembering they can be overcome. Raising awareness about the goals during an election alone will not fix deep-rooted problems in political systems. But the process of 9 advocacy may empower voters to begin considering candidates in new ways, and perhaps also to make different choices. It might foster new coalitions or forms of social and political consensus, and strengthen existing political movements that could or already do support the MDGs. One really important point to emphasize: The MDGs are achievable. That’s why countries around the world, with diverse political perspectives and at all stages of development, are taking different steps to reach the goals. These are based on their own priorities, but the overall movement is forward, towards 2015. As a reference point, see Box 1.1 for some examples of MDG campaigns during recent elections. It’s politics… You will need to understand, at least in a basic way, two aspects of politics to begin planning for an advocacy campaign during an election. First, formalized political and electoral systems comprise laws and institutions that guide how parties and candidates campaign, form alliances and resolve conflicts, and enact laws and policy decisions. They are the hardware
  17. 17. of politics, so to speak. Second, within these systems (and sometimes outside of them), less formal influences determine the ebb and flow of power and political discourse. These make up the software. They can be less tangible or obvious, but equally powerful, if not more so. Political and electoral systems Starting with the hardware: Most representative democracies now have one of three types of political systems: presidential, parliamentary or a hybrid. In presidential systems, different parties may control the legislature and executive branches. Parliamentary systems allow the dominant party to select the prime minister. Hybrid systems may have both a president and prime minister. Electoral systems are generally majoritarian, proportional or mixed. In majoritarian systems, candidates with the most votes win. In proportional systems, parties assign candidates to seats based on their percentage of the vote. Mixed systems combine the two approaches. Majoritarian systems put more emphasis on individual candidates, who may have to cultivate strong ties with their constituencies in specific electoral districts to earn enough votes. Dominant parties often emerge, with a tendency towards having a fewer number of parties. This political consolidation can exclude people who do not already have a strong voice in the system, such as women and minorities. Voter turnout in general is less than in proportional systems. 10 Proportional systems rely more on stronger party apparatuses and less on geographically defined electoral districts. They can be more inclusive, allowing women and minorities easier access as candidates; since parties draw from a larger, often national field of voters, they are willing to take the chance that new faces will attract some votes. They often rely on coalitions to govern, however, and these can be unstable. When parties are nationally elected, they may have less sensitivity to the needs of particular communities or geographical areas. What does all this mean in planning for an advocacy campaign? It comes down to choosing the most effective tactics and entry points for the system in which you are operating. In a majoritarian system, you may need to focus more on advocacy with individual candidates, compared to parties in a proportional system. If candidates have strong ties to electoral districts, you might want to target voters in those that are potentially most influential. For a national election in more centralized systems, you may need to emphasize media events in the capital. In more decentralized states or for local elections, galvanizing grass- roots voters might be key. If there is only one party in power, different political factions may still be operating within it; try to look for those whose support may be persuasive across the party as a whole.
  18. 18. Assessing the political environment Now for the software, and the myriad other elements in the world of politics. These can be obvious, hidden, benign or threatening. Different tendencies come from the personalities involved, cultural and historical patterns, and national or local experiences and expectations. They can be deeply psychological and irrational—as much about what people think and fear and hope for as the reality of their lives. They are often interrelated, so a political action at one point may inspire a reaction at another. A starting point for MDG advocacy is to recognize that political actors vary in their interest in the goals, even over time within the same country. In developing countries, the MDGs can be viewed as fundamental to the future welfare of the country and its people. Or as a foreign imposition or threat to a status quo that awards extra privileges to political elites. In developed countries, they may come across as a political priority justified in the name of morality and sound international relations. Or as an expensive burden on tax-payers. In elections, an obvious calculation will be: How will supporting the MDGs help me and/or my party get elected? Different countries have already demonstrated that it is possible to carry out MDG advocacy campaigns across diverse political environments. On paper, almost all countries have endorsed the goals, which are universally relevant and nationally/locally adaptable. And countries that hold elections, even if they are very limited, are acknowledging that voters have a say in public affairs. 11 Knowing these facts may not be enough for a campaign to gain traction in an election, however. You should also take a close look at what politicians are actually doing, and the incentives behind their behaviour. Party configurations, recent public statements about MDG-related issues, electoral platforms and stories that dominate in the media are among the sources of information about prevailing political trends. Some questions to ask might include: • What is the current political climate? Tense, polarized, energized, optimistic, etc.? • How long is the history of representative democracy? Generally, what have been experiences with past elections? • What are the stakes in the election? Who are the potential winners and losers? • Is anything new (a revised constitution, emergent political blocs, etc.) or particularly prominent (the government struggling to manage economic crisis, external threats, etc.)? Is it connected to achieving the MDGs? • Have specific past commitments been made to the MDGs? What has the record been on implementation? • What is the current configuration of political interests? Is representation diverse or limited to only one or a couple of groups?
  19. 19. • Who are the candidates? What do they stand for? In party systems, are they strongly or loosely obligated to uphold party mandates and positions? • Do local politicians have autonomy—or are they tied to the centre? • Do candidates and/or parties abide by transparent rules? Or are political power and decision-making based on different personalities or affiliations (ethnic, regional, caste, religion, etc.)? • What is the relationship between the legislature and executive branches? Does it generally favour or obstruct development priorities? • What is the status of women’s political participation? Are gender issues part of national political and development debates? Have women politicians been influential in establishing any new political agendas? • What are the roles of the media and civil society? Are they considered integral to the political process, with a legitimate function in ensuring accountability? Do they actually perform this function? Or are they discouraged from having an active voice by being heavily regulated or relegated to politically non-controversial issues? • If conflict results from the election, how easily will it be resolved? • Where are political commitments made (platforms, speeches, meetings with constituents, etc.)? How seriously do candidates take these? Can they be monitored? • Where does campaign financing come from? How extensively does this influence the 12 behaviour of candidates and the outcome of the election? • Over the longer term, what would make the political environment more favorable to the MDGs? How can work on the MDGs help improve governance? • Who within the political system could help make this happen? The incentives and perceptions of political parties and candidates may be true or not. They may be well defined or not. They may be rooted in formal political practices or not. Whatever the case, they have to be managed—otherwise, your campaign will fall short of what it could be. MDG campaign strategies, messages and activities, which are explored in more detail in the next chapter, should be closely tailored accordingly. As a general principle, if political support for the goals already exists, your campaign goals may revolve around broadening it or extending it on specific fronts. If openings for support do not already exist, then you may need to begin by fostering them. Maneuvering in highly polarized, fragmented political systems, particularly those with a recent history of conflict, can require great care and skill, particularly in managing potential risks from being seen as confrontational or taking sides. As you conduct your assessment, be alert for possibly wide local, regional and national variations. Another consideration: political systems usually “behave” differently during
  20. 20. elections. The stakes are higher as parties and candidates jockey for power. On one hand, it may be harder to get their attention. On the other, an election can stir public and political debate. People will be thinking about the direction of their country or locality, and which candidates and parties they want to steer them into the future. Tools to use: Tool 1, Tracking Patterns in Political Decision-Making; Tool 2, Selecting Issues with Political Momentum. Taking the Pulse of Voters If politicians and parties are one half of the election equation, voters are the other half. Determining what will bring voters to the polls is a basic pre-election task for political candidates, but it is also relevant for MDG advocacy campaigns. Knowing what voters think and want can help you define which of the goals are most relevant. Campaigning for these then becomes a leverage point with candidates who must appeal to voters. After the election, strong voter interest can help push candidates to implement the MDG commitments they have made. Understanding people’s perceptions about politics is also important. Voter participation rates vary widely around the world, and even within countries themselves. They often depend on feelings about the legitimacy and impact of elections on people’s everyday lives. 13 In preparing for a campaign, conducting some basic research will give you an approximate idea of past voting patterns and the people who live in the areas where you may carry out campaign activities. Are there regions, for example, where people tend not to vote? Or do they always vote for the same parties regardless of political platforms? If so, why? What issues are missing for them in the electoral agenda? What in the MDGs would appeal to them? You should also learn about issues such as high rates of illiteracy, since that will be a major factor in determining how you communicate with people. Data on voters can be difficult (but not impossible) to find. Try official data from sources such as the census, electoral bodies and the civil registrar. Other possible sources include independent surveys, research groups, local officials, community organizations and media reports. Useful information might include knowing: • How many people live in an area? • How many are registered to vote? • How many voted in the last election? • How many votes did each party/candidate receive? • How old is the average voter? • What is the ratio between men and women?
  21. 21. • What are common family types? • How much education do people have? • What are the rates of poverty and unemployment? • What are the rates of property ownership? • How good or poor is access to basic services, such as health, education, transportation, and water and sanitation? • Do people feel physically secure? • What are common perceptions about current leaders? • What do people think about the effectiveness and legitimacy of the current government/ political system? • How do they compare modern political mechanisms (such as elections) to traditional ones (such as customary community leaders)? Which do they turn to for solving problems? • Are particular voters considered part of a traditional voting bloc around regional/ethnic/ religious or other lines? Is this accurate? • Do they plan to vote in the upcoming election? If not, what would convince them to do so? • Have they heard of the MDGs? 14 • Which goals are most important to them? • What do they think needs to be done to achieve them? Weighing election risks and opportunities Another useful preliminary exercise is to survey potential risks and opportunities during the election and for your particular campaign. Ask if the risks need to be managed as part of the campaign strategy. The opportunities are potential entry points for campaign activities. Some common examples of election risks might be: • Greater sensitivity to political or other forms of conflict, and fewer options to resolve it • A slowdown in the implementation of existing MDG actions as the government awaits the election outcome • Distraction due to dominant election issues with little connection to the MDGs • Dismissal of the MDGs as an international issue less important than domestic concerns • Public alienation after the election if campaign commitments are not met
  22. 22. The opportunities could include: • The willingness of candidates to make political commitments to the MDGs • New candidates running for office who may be more open to new ideas • Greater engagement between MDG advocates and the political system • A rationale for MDG coalitions to form • Greater public awareness of the goals • The chance to persuade voters to make choices based on the MDG records and commitments of candidates As a general reflection, if you know the strengths of your own organization and the opportunities provided by the election, you can pinpoint strategies that use the strengths to capitalize on the opportunities. Working alone or together? As you think about embarking on your campaign, one basic decision involves moving forward alone or through partnerships with other people and organizations. The MDGs are premised on the notion of people working together. Achieving them will require inputs from politicians, civil society advocates, civil servants, religious organizations, 15 the private sector, journalists, labour unions, youth groups, community organizations, and so on. Explicitly embodied in the goals is an international partnership, in which developing and developed countries acknowledge that achieving the MDGs is a matter of mutual benefit that should include the provision of sufficient international resources and knowledge for countries who need them. If you look around at other campaigns, on the MDGs or other issues, you will find that some of the most successful have involved coalitions. Broad-based campaigns tend to be more effective because there is strength in numbers. They have more resources and a bigger pool of expertise. When they unite people from different political perspectives around common ends such as the MDGs, they can appear more “neutral” and focused on the issues. The goals as a whole, since they cover the touchstones of development, can be a logical common reference point for groups active an array of development concerns. In some countries, there may also be a valid argument for working in a lower profile way, such as through a single organization. Forming a large and vocal civil society coalition might be perceived as a threat that could inspire a backlash. This is particularly the case in nations with fragmented or highly sensitive political systems—and more so during elections, where divisions may be more acute than usual. Take time to think through the alternatives. Instead of a public demonstration, these situations might call for highly experienced advocates to meet individually with candidates, for example, with the expectation that they can gradually push forward behind the scenes.
  23. 23. Types of coalitions Should you decide to form a coalition, there are two basic configurations. One involves different groups agreeing to work together and coordinate their activities, often under the guidance of a steering committee. A second entails forming an organization through pooled resources to manage the campaign. The latter option is more centralized and can be more powerful, but only if it is very well organized and member groups live up to their commitments of human and other resources. The steering committee option, which is more decentralized, allows greater flexibility and can be more readily established and disbanded for an election. Under either approach, you need to develop a set of joint objectives, positions and campaign messages, and apply these consistently to all aspects of the campaign. In advance, you should prepare mechanisms to head off potential conflicts. Many disputes will be avoided by having transparent and accountable leadership, and clear guidelines for managing the campaign. You might also want a system to disengage with members who do not live up to their initial commitments or who come to threaten the credibility of the campaign. Achieving effective participation is also important—the point of a coalition is to combine different strengths. Many coalitions falter when they become too rigid or hierarchical, or when leadership becomes overly centralized or exclusive. People and groups who know that their contributions and voices are valued will be more enthusiastic and active. 16 A number of global campaigns, including for the MDGs, have made significant impacts because they have set a general global direction and encouraged national partners to pursue their own strategies. The same type of model could be applied at the national level to accommodate local partners in different regions of the country. Tools to use: Tool 3, Working Together: Making Participation Meaningful. Know the law A final essential piece of assessing your campaign options: All countries that conduct elections have laws, rules and codes of conduct for candidates, and possibly civil society advocates and the media as well. These can apply to an array of different issues, from media access to campaign contributions to voter eligibility. Find out about any provisions that may apply to you. You may draw benefits from some. The failure to comply with others could result in penalties starting with the loss of public credibility and extending to legal sanctions.
  24. 24. Campaign Tales Box 1.1 The MDGs on the Campaign Trail The MDGs have featured in a number of recent elections. Many advocacy campaigns have favoured working across parties, linking candidates to the common agenda of the MDGs: Australia: In Australia’s 2007 elections, the faith-based group Caritas issued press releases that highlighted the lack of attention by the major parties to development assistance commitments made in the MDGs. Lobbying by the Micah Challenge convinced the opposition party to promise an aid increase. Bangladesh: For the 2008 parliamentary elections, the People’s Empowerment Trust and People’s Forum on the MDGs rated party election manifestos on their commitments to the goals. Parties scored “very good,” “good,” “apparently good,” “average” and “absent” on issues ranging from agricultural inputs to legislation discriminating against women. Canada: In the 2007 federal elections in Canada, the Make Poverty History campaign organized supporters in key districts to meet with candidates and challenge them to make ending poverty a policy goal. Malta: A coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Malta designed a five-point Manifesto for Development before the 2008 elections, and engaged 17 with politicians from the three major political parties to include it in their electoral platforms. The manifesto comprised points on aid targets, fair trade, national development education, the participation of NGOs in development policy work, and development policy coherence. A special National MDG Seminar was held on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty to present and discuss the manifesto with candidates. Pakistan: Before elections in 2007, NGOs created a four-kilometre banner, the world’s longest. Calling for the achievement of the MDGs, it attracted signatures from millions of people. The campaign held a press conference that urged political parties to define their agenda for achieving the MDGs as part of their election campaigns, particularly to ensure the eradication of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and injustice. Campaign representatives proposed decreasing non-development and military spending as burdens on humanity. Spain: For Spain’s March 2008 elections, the Spanish Alliance Against Poverty gathered together representatives from the three major political parties to debate proposals to end poverty and inequality. The discussion touched on the political commitment to the MDGs, improved official development assistance, reduced
  25. 25. debt burdens on poor countries and fair trade. Candidates agreed to prioritize the quality of aid during the upcoming legislative session, and to push for reforming the debt system. United States: Before the 2008 presidential election, “One”, a US-based campaign to end global poverty, issued a comparison of MDG-related commitments in competing election platforms, as well as its own suggestions. The platform of winning candidate Barak Obama promised to make the MDGs part of American policy. Immediately after the election, InterAction, a consortium of NGOs, issued a concise proposal for a US national development strategy based on the MDGs. Zambia: In Zambia, the Micah Challenge, a Christian NGO, called on presidential candidates standing for the 2008 elections to commit to attaining the MDGs, and to explain their agenda for the rural poor to traditional leaders before requesting their vote. Traditional chiefs made statements in the media that their people had been marginalized and remained poor, so this time they should know what they are voting for. Religious leaders urged voters to ignore party and tribal lines in favour of a development vision based on the MDGs. Previously, during Zambia’s 2006 parliamentary elections, churches worked with communities in the copper-belt region on pre-poll contracts from candidates to record their promises to achieve the MDGs. 18
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  27. 27. © UNHCR / S. Schulman © UNFPA / Sagar Shrestha
  28. 28. Chapter II Before the Election, Part 2: Formulating a Plan for Action Once you have carried out some initial assessments and thinking about an MDG advocacy campaign, the next most important step is to craft a sound strategy that spells out clear goals, messages and tactics. The following pages list the basic elements. Use these to start framing your own strategy and identifying what will be required. Make notes on each of the following items, with reference to specific issues in your country or locality. After reviewing the entire guidebook, you can come back and begin fine-tuning actual plans. As a reference point, take a look at the MDG campaign examples profiled in Box 2.1. Useful additional tools at the end of this guide: Tool 4, Stakeholder Analysis; Tool 5, More on Messages; Tool 6, Options for Campaign Actions; Tool 7, Through a Gender Lens.
  29. 29. What’s in a successful campaign strategy? Define what you want to achieve. Any successful campaign strategy begins with deciding where you want to go—in the short and long term. Try to write your most important objectives down, preferably as a list. Ideas might include: • Increased awareness about MDG issues among voters and politicians • The creation of new coalitions to support MDG achievements • Pilot initiatives to prove what is possible with the MDGs • Expanding awareness of the MDGs within the legislature and/or the executive branch • References to an MDG agenda in party platforms • Electoral debates about the MDGs • Public support from individual candidates and parties, demonstrated by the inclusion of MDG references in campaign speeches or other electoral campaign activities • Mediacoverage significant enough to persuade political candidates to recognize the importance of the MDGs and the general public to consider them in their voting choices • Political commitments to implementing specific laws and policies, and/or budget allocations to help achieve the MDGs 22 Don’t forget to focus and prioritize. The MDGs cover many issues. While they are important and interconnected parts of a broader vision of development, as articulated in the Millennium Declaration, some of the goals many be more locally or nationally relevant at a given point in time than others. Some may reflect issues already prominent in political debates, and have a greater chance of leveraging interest and action. If many constituents are concerned about the lack of access to education, for example, the second MDG could be selected to help focus attention on the need to define specific, time-bound education policy goals and the steps to reach them. One way to assess the strength of your campaign objectives is through the “SMART” system. Try to define objectives that are: SMART Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound
  30. 30. Define your target audience(s). Who can help you achieve your objectives? Determine, even in a general way, how they can help—such as through publicity, fundraising or constituency outreach. Why would they help? How would they benefit? Motivations can range from the chance to boost political support to genuine commitment to a given development issue to the need for public services in a community. The stronger the motivation, the more interest a given target audience will take in your campaign messages. Target audiences during election campaigns might include some of the following: • Voters • Politicians running for election • Politicians already in office • Influential political party members • Government officials with a record of championing the MDGs • Politically active constituencies with an obvious interest in the MDGs (such as teachers or health professionals) • Politically active members of the private sector (such as political action groups) • Civil society advocacy groups 23 • Traditional authorities Again, it is important to prioritize. Trying to reach everyone can diffuse time and financial resources. Who can help you most? Is it possible to influence certain groups that would then be likely to magnify your efforts by influencing others themselves? Tools to use: Tool 4, Stakeholder Analysis. Identify who might work on the campaign. Consider which individuals or organizations may have existing links with potential target audiences. Can the campaign build on these? What are needed skills and resources. Who can bring these to the table? Important capacities to have on a campaign team can comprise: • Communication skills • Leadership experience, including in managing coalitions • Experience in political advocacy
  31. 31. • Knowledge of MDG issues and policy options • Research skills • Organizational/logistical abilities • Fundraising Determine your message(s). Effective campaign messages emerge from knowing what your target audience is willing to hear and act on. This is not always the same as what you would like them to hear, at least initially . Campaigning can be a step-by-step process of appealing to people—you may be starting with a message that is very new or competing for attention, particularly in a political process such as an election where many issues are at stake. The bottom line: Campaign messages should convince your target audience to take actions that help achieve your objectives. In developing your campaign messages, try to pinpoint one primary message that reflects the heart of your objectives. It should be readily understandable to a cross-section of people and phrased in a straightforward way—keep the message simple, even if it embodies a complex reality. Once you catch people’s attention, then you can convince them to listen to what else you have to say. Secondary messages can be developed to elaborate on your 24 primary message. Messages can be conveyed in different forms. You may want to come up with catchy slogans for public events such as rallies, for example. You can then elaborate on the same messages in a brief list of critical policy ideas for one-on-one meetings with politicians and policy makers. If you stay “on message” across all campaign activities, even if you feel you are repeating the same basic ideas over and over, there will be a much greater likelihood that your messages will be received by enough people to make a difference. See Box 2.2 for some examples of how to recast the MDGs to appeal to popular audiences. Tools to use: Tool 5, More on Messages. Figure out where you will reach your target audience(s). Choose venues for communicating your key messages to them accordingly. Some of the options include: • Personal meetings
  32. 32. • Speeches • Media • Rallies • Political campaign events • Community meetings • Voter registration or education drives Match people to convey your message(s) with your target audiences. People who advocate campaign messages are convincing for different reasons. They may be widely respected, influential, trusted, knowledgeable about the issues, and/or in positions of authority. Target audiences should perceive them as having at least some of these characteristics, as this increases the chances that they will respond to campaign messages. For example, for a meeting between a civil society group and a politician, it may make sense to reach out to a supportive member of the politician’s party or constituency. Ask them to meet with you, or otherwise advise the politician to listen closely to your case. Typical examples of people who can convey campaign messages are: 25 • Campaign spokespeople • Candidates • Voters • Prominent members of a community/celebrities • Journalists • Business people • Recognized development experts • Civil servants • Traditional authorities Pay attention to timing. Campaign events should be timed with the electoral cycle to achieve maximum impacts. There are three basic stages, listed here with common political activities that take place during them:
  33. 33. • Pre-election: This may involve putting in place legal and institutional mechanisms for the election, deciding on the electoral calendar, training officials, registering and educating voters, and raising funds for candidacies and political advocacy. • Electoral period: This entails active campaigning, up through election day, voting, and the tabulation and certification of results. • Post-election: This is the time to implement campaign promises, take stock of performance, and evaluate electoral rules and practices. For a well-timed MDG advocacy campaign, the pre-electoral period might be the moment to begin implementing longer term strategies such as voter education, and assessing the potential line-up of candidates and parties for advocacy entry points and messages. The electoral period itself should coincide with the most active and resource-intensive phase of the campaign. After an election, some consideration should be given to follow-up, including among successful candidates who have promised to take action on MDG issues—for more on this, see Chapter V. Develop a plan. MDG campaigns can encompass a huge variety of activities: letters to the editor, public rallies, meetings with politicians and activists, media outreach, slogans on T-shirts and billboards, exhibitions, petitions and voter education drives are some of the many options. 26 Your creativity and innovation can help come up with tactics to capture attention and get people thinking in new ways. Organization is critical. A campaign—since it involves coordinating multiple activities to achieve a set of core objectives—needs a plan. It should spell out goals, target audiences, key messages and partnerships, and specify a timeframe. Existing human and financial resources should be identified, along with projected future needs. Successful campaigns can happen in a spontaneous or ad hoc way, or as an add-on to other activities, but many experiences suggest that having basics in place such as a dedicated campaign budget and team for implementation boosts the prospects for success. If you have the resources, design multipronged campaign strategies that cover a lot of ground by targeting different audiences, using a variety of tactics, perhaps operating in different regions of the country. Even if your goals need to be more modest, all campaign activities should be considered for their potential to build on each other, since coordinated efforts can be more powerful than fragmented steps taken in isolation. Focusing first on raising the profile of MDG issues in the media, for example, may convince some politicians to meet with campaign representatives to discuss political commitments and policy recommendations. If you are able to get commitments in election platforms, you can then follow up after the election is done.
  34. 34. Your campaign strategy should also “plan for the unplannable”. Political dynamics can shift rapidly, particularly during the high stakes of election periods. To respond to new developments, try to factor in the flexibility to drop or replace tactics that become unnecessary or prove ineffective. Finally, before or during the drafting of your plan, conduct a gender analysis. Gender equity is central to all of the MDGs, in addition to being a specific goal. Different messages and activities may be required to reach women, who often face systematic patterns of discrimination and exclusion. You may miss these unless you make a concerted effort to define and respond to them. Tools to use: Tool 6, Options for Campaign Actions; and Tool 7, Through a Gender Lens. Box 2.1 The MDGs in Europe: Goal 8 Achievements and Campaign Tales Lessons A number of European countries have conducted public campaigns on the MDGs. Most had dual tasks: to raise public awareness about the goals and inspire commitment to the provision of development assistance under Goal 8. Government aid ministries financed campaigns in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. A highly visible campaign kicked off in Italy by the Millennium Campaign 27 later traveled to Germany, Portugal and Spain. Campaigns have also taken place in Austria, Denmark, Finland and Norway. While the European campaigns were not designed explicitly around elections, they do offer some general lessons about MDG advocacy. First, since it is not possible to communicate all the goals in one message, most of the campaigns chose a primary focus on poverty, narrowing in on other goals as opportunities provided, including in relation to specific thrusts in national development assistance. Public opinion surveys found that people in most of the countries believed that poverty should be a number one priority, generally followed by HIV and AIDS. The lowest priority was maternal mortality, although this was also viewed as one of the most feasible problems to solve by 2015. According to research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), other factors for successful MDG campaigns in Europe have included sustaining activities over several years, mandating a team to work on the campaign, providing enough funding, finding innovative ways of making the goals “real” to the general public, brokering partnerships with civil society and the private sector, and identifying events on which to piggyback campaign activities instead of creating new platforms.
  35. 35. Some campaign highlights: Belgium: An ongoing campaign kicked off in 2005, launched by the Royal Princess Mathilde. Steered by a committee of representatives from government ministries and active development organizations, its chosen theme is: “The bridge of solidarity— let’s build a future for all of us.” So far, a national media campaign has fostered general awareness of the MDGs, while a traveling exhibition has visited schools, local town halls and the national Senate. A centenary celebration of the five Belgian scouting federations featured the building of a symbolic solidarity bridge linking the northern and southern hemisphere, which sparked widespread media coverage. Through these activities, public awareness of the MDGs has increased by almost 20 percent, according to the OECD. In an unusual move, a number of political candidates featured the goals in their 2007 election campaigns. Netherlands: Starting in 2003, the NCDO—a semi-public development agency—led 44 Dutch NGOs in a campaign called: “Make it happen: No more poverty in the world.” It focused on raising public awareness and political advocacy, challenging people to “dare to dream”. Activities comprised media outreach, using platforms from text messages to television ads, and MDG-themed contests in public schools. A “Make it happen” publicity tour sought the support of ethnic minorities, senior citizens and religious young people. A signature-collection drive encouraged the Prime Minister to promote the MDGs at the international level. By 2007, according to OECD statistics, 28 public recognition of the MDGs had jumped to 38 percent, up from only 13 percent in 2003. Sweden: In 2002, a Swedish MDG campaign engaged 85 groups from civil society, academia and the private sector, under the coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Agency, and representatives from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Association. The campaign embraced a proactive message—“it’s possible to halve poverty by 2015”—and then brought home that this would be a “present to us all for us all.” The “Chance of a Lifetime” ad campaign reached over 3.6 million Swedes; parallel events included linking the Annual Conference on Development to the MDGs and preparing a seminar on the goals for parliamentarians. By the time the campaign ended in 2005, organizers concluded that the public information component had paid off, with general awareness rising from 27 percent to 41 percent. Advocacy among ministry officials helped overcome a resistance to referring to the MDGs in internal policy papers—most now do. Less success was achieved, however, in fostering greater prominence for the goals on political agendas, which the campaign attributed in part to the lack of a formal campaign mandate from the Government. Source: OECD, Public Campaigns about the MDGs Since 2003 .
  36. 36. Campaign Tales Box 2.2 Rewording the MDGs The MDGs are relatively straightforward goals. But for the purposes of a campaign, it may be worth rephrasing them (or their national equivalents) in even simpler ways that avoid any hint of technical “development” language and appeal very directly to people’s hopes for their lives. A campaign in Pasay City, Philippines chose to reword them as: • MDG 1: My family has a job and savings. • MDG 2: All our children go to school. • MDG 3: Men and women have equal rights. • MDG 4: All our children are healthy. • MDG 5: We keep pregnancy safe and healthy. • MDG6: We avoid HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. • MDG 7: We keep our homes and the environment clean. • MDG 8: We get involved in community development. In Tanzania, an NGO called Hakikazi Catalyst issues a series called the Plain Language Guides, including one on the MDGs. It chose to describe the goals as part of imagining a future where: • There is no poverty or hunger • All mothers are healthy, children do not die unnecessarily, and diseases like 29 tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS are no more. • All boys and girls finish primary school, and all men and women have equal opportunities. • The environment has recovered from long years of exploitation and pollution and parents are proud to pass it on to their children. • The global family of nations and institutions is united and at peace, and people work in partnership with efficiency and compassion to remove injustice and suffering from the world. To come up with your own ideas, brainstorm and be creative. Ask people who may not be familiar with development terms: What does the end of poverty look like to you? What would gender equality mean in your life and that of your daughter? How do you imagine a healthy environment? Write down the responses. Do common themes emerge?
  37. 37. © Tariq Mehmood (Khanpride) © UNFPA / Sagar Shrestha
  38. 38. Chapter III During the Election, Part 1: The Art of Campaign Advocacy A s an election gets underway, and candidates and parties begin to compete for voters, you should be ready to roll out your MDG campaign strategy—possibly slightly before the poll if the strategy includes pre-election elements. Core campaigners should be in place, with coalition agreements nailed down. The campaign should have sufficient resources to at least get started or for the course of the election, depending on how long it is and how much time there will be for additional fundraising. In general, the big picture strategic planning should be done, with your target audiences and key messages solidly defined, so that you can focus on transmitting them through different activities. This chapter highlights techniques that you can use through the campaign to boost the strength of your advocacy, however you chose to pursue it. Advocacy, like politics, is an art form. It requires creativity and intuition, listening and responding—as much as planning and well-organized logistics. To reach your audiences, you need always to maintain a sense of them. What will attract their attention? What inspires them? What will they listen to—or be unwilling to hear? Their receptiveness may vary by issue and over time. But if you have a general idea of their mindset, you will be better equipped to advocate your campaign messages in a persuasive way. Box 3.1 profiles two examples of highly successful global campaigns that illustrate the art of campaign advocacy, as confirmed by their far-reaching impacts. Useful additional tools at the end of this guide: Tool 8, Making Your Case: Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence. Now, some principles to keep in mind.
  39. 39. Educate—and advocate Campaigns at times find that before they get to advocacy—persuading people to take action—they first need to educate their target audiences. Education implies a more neutral presentation of information so that people have the basic facts. This can help dispel wrong perceptions or lead to the formation of more accurate ones. In some industrial countries, one typical example involves foreign assistance. People commonly overestimate the amount that is granted and do not have a clear understanding of what it is used for and why it is important. So before you call for more of it under the Goal 8 commitment, you need to fill these gaps. Ask for more In an election, you will probably be asking people for something—candidates for commitments and public statements, voters for engagement in MDG issues backed by votes, the media for coverage. One basic principle is to always ask for more than you know you’ll get. If people say no, keep asking. It will become harder for them at some point; plus the consistency of your requests can make them convincing. Be prepared for trade-offs 32 By the same token, keep in mind that you probably won’t get everything you ask for. Asking for more in the beginning can leave room for trade-offs later on. In working with politicians, you might, for example, pull back on one issue in exchange for an agreement to move forward on another. Start with what’s already acceptable One approach to advocacy is to start with what you know will be acceptable to the people you want to reach. You then can seek to gradually persuade them to listen to ideas that may be closer to where you would like to end up. Acknowledging the extent of poverty, for example, is a sensitive subject in some countries, particularly for politicians who may not want to publicly associate this issue with shortfalls in past political performance. Instead of confronting them with this fact, you could emphasize the need to create jobs or increase options for income generation and education that will eventually benefit a locality or the country as a whole. Go for the bold and unexpected—in a calculated way A different approach is to highlight ideas that are bold, striking, unexpected. They inspire a sense of what is possible, and inspire people to think and dream in new ways. A focused
  40. 40. campaign challenging the government to end poverty in one generation may have widespread appeal in some countries, particularly those that have set their sights on rapid development progress. Handle this strategy with care, however. Do your research in advance and know how much you can say. If you overshoot, the message could fall flat, and people will dismiss the campaign as unrealistic. Think creatively Whether your campaign takes a bold or more conservative approach to the messages you advocate, you can dream up creative campaign activities—advocates in past campaigns have come up with a vast array of options depending on what they are trying to achieve. Events that are different from what people are used to seeing inspire curiosity and the desire to find out more. Even serious issues can be presented in friendly, fun and/or humorous ways with broad appeal. For some examples, see Box 3.2. Balance realism and optimism, like the MDGs Whatever the form of your advocacy, try to balance realism and optimism. The MDGs set high but achievable goals. Campaigns taking a similar approach will inspire people with hope in the possibility of a better, more developed world, and stress that the way forward includes taking concrete, step-by-step measures. You may initially aim to increase political 33 will and public awareness, but the eventual objective is to translate these into real actions, such as new policies and laws, mechanisms for implementation and resources. Appeal to the head and heart For many target audiences, it will be appropriate to appeal on multiple levels by blending quantitative facts and figures with more emotionally compelling stories about real human lives. People process information in very different ways—some of these will be culturally specific. Numerical data can be everything for some people. Others will be able to visualize all the issues at stake by hearing about someone else’s personal experience. Explore the range of choices for different campaign activities. Policymakers, for example, at some point usually have to work in the realm of numbers, although political candidates may turn to personal stories to demonstrate that they understand and sympathize with voters. Journalists often use human-interest anecdotes to appeal to readers or viewers, before turning to quantitative data to prove that the stories are emblematic of larger trends. See Box 3.3 for an example of using people’s personal stories for MDG policy recommendations, and Box 3.4 on a campaign that highlights numbers to convey its core messages.
  41. 41. Have evidence in hand You should have sufficient evidence to argue for campaign positions—and respond to alternatives that may be presented by candidates, voters, the media or other election players. Campaigns can draw interest with catchy slogans and rousing public events. But you should also be equipped to deepen and sustain interest by offering convincing, well-documented evidence that defines problems and supports recommended solutions. That includes your case for the development issues covered by the MDGs, and for the use of the MDGs as an important mechanism to guide and speed up development progress. Tools to use: Tool 8, Making Your Case: Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence. Weigh the front page vs. the back door Keep in mind where you can be most effective. Does that mean being on the front pages of national newspapers? Or in small meetings with politicians and their constituents? Many famous social advocacy campaigns have taken a highly public approach and made powerful impacts. Potent examples of direct action campaigns, which deliberately operate outside the usual social and political channels, abound. They include Gandhi’s 1930 Salt March in India, where protesters defied a salt tax in a turning point towards national independence. In the United States, the actions of the Freedom Riders, white and black civil rights activists 34 who switched racially segregated seats on buses in 1961, became a landmark in the struggle for equal rights. While actions like these are often held up as models of effective campaigns, they may not work in all countries or under all political configurations. Another example comes from Mauritania, where women’s activists for many years sought the institution of quotas for women politicians through public forums such as the media. Their appeals went unheard until they chose a back-door approach of meeting individually with each candidate in a presidential election. The candidates all agreed to support the quota idea, and it was adopted after the election concluded, helping usher a record number of women into political seats. You are best equipped to decide if a front-page or back-door approach works best in your country. The point is to pay close attention to local realities. You can always learn from other experiences, while avoiding the temptation to impose a certain model just because it worked somewhere else. Think in terms of partners Wherever possible, look for partners, even if you don’t have a formal coalition or network, and even if you decide to limit these relationships to particular campaign issues or activities.
  42. 42. Engagement with other people and groups, even if it is as simple as sitting around a workshop table, leads to the exchange of ideas, enhanced awareness, the dissemination of messages, the discovery of common points of support, and greater prospects for people to carry the campaign into the arenas where they operate (and where you may not). In short, when people work together, they multiply individual contributions many times over. As an example, see Box 3.5. Box 3.1 Two Global Success Stories: Mines and Debt Campaign Tales Banning landmines Two global advocacy campaigns stand out for achieving significant progress in a short time. One is the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. It kicked off in the early 1990s through the efforts of a handful of NGOs who wanted to shine a global spotlight on the horrific suffering caused by anti-personnel mines and stop their use. By 1997, 122 countries had signed an international treaty to ban the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of mines. The campaign began on the international level, but soon included a groundswell of national campaigns as civil society organizations around the world lent support. From the start, inclusiveness was an important aspect of the campaign, which recognized that such a major enterprise would require action on many fronts. National campaigns tailored their efforts to individual countries, but the message and the objective—to 35 ban landmines, with no exceptions—was consistent throughout. The campaign used a two-prong strategy. One aspect was the provision of technical information detailing the impacts of mines, the scope of global production and the legal issues involved in pursuing a ban. This was used for public outreach through the media as well as in interactions with politicians and policy makers. The other aspect entailed concerted political engagement with a set of countries that became champions of the initial treaty proposal. These partnerships convinced other governments to eventually come on board and led directly to the passage of the treaty. Today the campaign, which involves more than 1,400 member organizations in 90 countries, continues to be an advocate to rid the world of mines, devoting its efforts to disseminating public information, monitoring compliance with the treaty and advocating its universal adoption. The Cambodian Campaign to Ban Landmines, for example, was founded in 1994 by disabled war veterans. As one of the first national initiatives, it has been part of the push for the Kingdom of Cambodia to sign the mine- ban treaty, enact domestic legislation prohibiting the use of anti-personnel mines, and destroy all known stockpiles of the Army and National Police. The campaign is
  43. 43. now monitoring compliance with the treaty and the domestic law, and helping to maintain broad public awareness of mine dangers. Although Cambodia remains a heavily mined country because of its legacy of war, it has been able to report as part of its mine-ban treaty obligations that between 2000 and 2005, it destroyed over 71,000 devices. No more debt Another prominent and powerful campaign was Jubilee 2000. Over four years, starting in 1996, it brought the issue of debt cancellation for poor countries to the top of the international political agenda. By 2000, wealthy donor countries had agreed to cancel US $110 billion in debt. Like the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jubilee 2000 pulled together a broad, diverse coalition, from the local to the international level. It too had a common message—debt cancellation—with room for national adaption. While people in Southern countries had been active on debt relief for years, Jubilee 2000 combined their efforts at an opportune time, as it became clear that the 1996 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative was faltering, even as debt burdens continued to extract a heavy toll. In Bolivia, the campaign organized massive civil society consultations to urge that 36 money from debt relief go into social spending. In Uganda, campaigners advised parliamentarians to reject unwarranted borrowing. In India, tens of thousands of women marched in support of the campaign. On the eve of the 2000 G-7 summit, African leaders met as a group to stand up to creditor nations and press for relief. The campaign also focused on winning over journalists, including those in the financial press who initially were dismissive of debt relief as impossible or too expensive. High quality reports were prepared, combining information from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, donor and creditor governments, and NGO resources. The campaign issued statistics designed to shock people into immediately understanding the severity of the debt crisis. It emphasized that 19,000 children die each day due to the absorption of resources by debt repayments, for example. It pointed out that for every British pound in grant aid that goes to developing countries, nine pounds come back in debt repayments. To help broaden the reach of its messages, the campaign tapped well-known celebrities, a remarkably diverse bunch that included the Pope, musicians Bono and Youssou N’Dour, the conservative US legislator Jesse Helms and the athlete Muhammad Ali. It engaged people of faith, trade unionists, student organizations and professional groups such as the British Medical Association.
  44. 44. The campaign attributed part of its success to its management structures. Four central offices remained small and thinly staffed. Instead of a rigid bureaucratic structure, the campaign relied on its clear mandate, trust, solidarity and cooperation. Its flexibility fostered creativity and spontaneity, including quick, on-the-ground responses to events as they unfolded. Jubilee supporters made films, organized concerts, protested on the streets, collected over 24 million signatures on petitions, formed human chains, played soccer games in debt cancellation shirts, wrote postcards and told personal stories—among other activities. Campaign Tales Box 3.2 Creative Campaigning Creative campaign events that have drawn attention through their sheer novelty include: Denmark and globally: As part of the MDG3 Global Call to Action campaign, sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark, 100 torches were lit around the world, culminating with one for the UN Secretary-General at the 2008 UN high- level event on the MDGs. With the lighting of each torch, governments, international organizations, private sector firms and individual citizens made promises to “do something extra” to achieve gender equality. The Danish Government for its part 37 agreed to double aid allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment by 2010. Egypt: The Government, UN agencies, civil society groups and the private sector conducted an MDG campaign in 2007 that centred on sailing eight traditional Egyptian boats down the Nile River. The sail of each boat portrayed one of the goals. At stops in cities along the way, campaign organizers worked with local committees on events celebrating human rights, development and youth volunteerism. Europe: During the European Development Days in Strasbourg, France, and coinciding with a G-20 economic summit in Washington DC, an alliance of civil society advocates held an event that attracted media and public attention to economic disparities. Activists representing the G-20 developed and emerging nations held golden parachutes and drank champagne as they walked over the bodies of activists lying on the ground who represented 170 poorer countries. Germany: Activists handed a suitcase to the Development Minister at the Berlin airport. The suitcase was inscribed with the slogan “poverty can pack.” It contained eight articles representing the MDGs, along with a report on recommendations to achieve them.
  45. 45. India: Renowned Bollywood directors, film writers and performers created an MDG- themed TV game show. It featured a singing competition, with songs linked to the goals, and donations to organizations working on the MDGs instead of prizes. Box 3.3 Nepal: The Power of the Personal Campaign Tales Personal stories can be a powerful way of conveying messages about the MDGs—and underscoring the importance of including grass-roots perspectives in public policy debates. In Nepal, two UN agencies worked with the National Planning Commission to publish a compilation of poignant interviews about people’s experiences with the issues in the first seven goals. Individuals, many from the poorest, most excluded parts of Nepali society, told of their struggles with hunger, disease and trying to survive on marginal employment. The report team also concisely summarized the stories as a set of findings under each MDG, and presented a set of recommendations—such as for needs-based functional literacy programmes and initiatives to curb domestic violence. The approach brings home the fact that policy decisions have a distinctly human face, and that ordinary 38 people can both identify problems that might otherwise remain ignored and propose the means to solve them. Box 3.4 Africa: Making a Point with Numbers Campaign Tales Some campaigns have cleverly used data and numbers to zoom to the heart of an issue. In Africa, the name of the 15% Now Campaign reiterates its main message: that African Union member states should uphold a 2001 pledge to allocate 15 percent of national budgets to health. 15% Now has also combined numbers with a vivid image picked up by media outlets during recent campaign events. It stresses that 43 jumbo jets crashing every day, each with 500 passengers on board, is the equivalent of the 8 million Africans who die each year from preventable, treatable, manageable health conditions. The campaign focuses its advocacy on Africa’s regional and sub-regional intergovernmental bodies. A coalition of over 140 organizations, it is chaired by a globally known and respected person with high moral authority—Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

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