Tenth Workshop for the Somali Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs

Max Planck Foundation organises a workshop on elections and political parties in multi-level systems for staff at the Ministry in Somalia

The Max Planck Foundation organised a workshop on 16 May 2016 for the Somali Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs (MoIFA) on elections and political parties in multi-level systems. The workshop is part of a series of knowledge building training and was attended by 27 participants who work at the Ministry on questions directly or indirectly related to the federalisation process in Somalia.

Under the guidance of Max Planck Foundation Technical Advisors, the workshop provided the participants with an overview on key elements of electoral frameworks and specifically focused on how federal systems of government potentially impact the features of the electoral system. Drawing on comparative experience, different models for electoral systems, frameworks, and processes in federal countries were explained. During the discussion session, the participants had the opportunity to study various electoral models more closely in smaller working groups. Facilitated by the Foundation’s Technical Advisors, the participants discussed the benefits and challenges of different options in the context of Somalia.

Another major theme of the workshop was the issue of political parties in multi-level systems of government. In the course of the workshop, the Technical Advisors and participants took note of the absence of a political parties culture in the historic and political traditions in Somalia, and discussed the implications for the current political and electoral processes in the country. Against this backdrop, the role and functions of political parties in electoral, parliamentary and other political decision-making processes were explored.

With the upcoming parliamentary and presidential election in Somalia, envisaged to take place in the second half of 2016, questions related to the electoral system are a top priority in governmental decision-making processes. The finalisation and implementation of the framework for the upcoming elections is currently under way, with the support of the MoIFA as one of the key institutions involved in the process. While this has been recognised as a major achievement for the transformation and democratisation process in Somalia, the ongoing preparation of the 2016 elections also demonstrated that a number of key issues remain unresolved. This concerns, inter alia, the adoption of a permanent electoral system after the conclusion of the transitional phase and the state formation process in Somalia, the strengthening of the domestic legislative and institutional framework, and the establishment and strengthening of democratic political parties. The staff of MoIFA will be able to use the knowledge and skills gained during the workshop to support the work of the Ministry aimed at resolving these challenges.