Donor: Embassy of Untied States, The Royal Norwegian Embassy, British Embassy
Project Description: Because of its novelty in the Albanian political culture and the impact, this project remains one of the symbols for the public recognition of IDM. For the first time in Albania’s multi-party history, debates among rival candidates became a major public event. The sponsorship of cross-party debates during the local government elections of 2000 resulted in confidence-building between candidates and the public and informational exchanges between the Democratic and Socialist parties in the 9 locations where the debates took place – Shkoder, Kukes, Tirana, Vlora, Fier, Gjirokaster, Durres, Elbasan, and Korca. Local media and the press comprehensively covered the cross-party debates. Local teams from both major parties served as project mobilizers. They received training in Tirana on organizing of political debates, facilitating dialogue and discussion amongst rivaling candidates, raising public awareness, and improving public confidence in the electoral processes. A decrease of political tension in the program areas was evident. In the words of Chairman of Socialist Party in Shkodra the debate was: “The main and most important political event in Shkodra for the last ten years”.