[Editor’s note: This post was written by Enrique Mendizabal and Leandro Echt. It is the first of a series of 8 posts on a Latin American think tanks’ initiative aimed at influencing electoral processes that will be published over the next two weeks. The series has been edited by Leandro Echt as part of a collaboration between On Think Tanks and CIPPEC. It has been published at VIPPAL in Spanish, and at On Think Tanks as part of the Guest Editor initiative launched last year.]
Some thinktankers may suggest that electoral years are dead for think tanks: they are not good for research or for communicating their findings because they do not know who might win and what they will decide to do -and so it is best to wait until after the elections.
Some Latin American think tanks would disagree: for them, this is the time to get busy. Particularly, if we consider that, with some exceptions, electoral campaigns in Latin America do not generally involve serious debates over strategic policy issues this is a time when think tanks can really show their worth and change, not just policy but also the policy context.
Although there are numerous cases in the region in which think tanks have embarked in initiatives to influence electoral campaigns, this role has been under-studied. Therefore this series of blog posts intends to shed some light on those experiences. Indeed, if we address Latin American think tanks’ experiences in influencing electoral processes, we are able to identify some common features of what Fernando Straface, Executive Director of CIPPEC, has called “a Latin American technology of influence” in electoral campaigns. A technology we’d like to export to other regions.
This first post introduces some of the cases found in the region. The series does not pretend to be exhaustive, and we hope that other experiences out there that we are not aware of will come forward.
Upcoming posts include:
- Focusing the electoral debate: CIES’ experience in the 2011 electoral campaign in Peru, by Javier Portocarrero, Executive Director of the Consortium for Economic and Social Research (CIES), with the collaboration of Leandro Echt. CIES led two initiatives trying to influence elections in Peru, in 2006 and 2011. It was one of the pioneers of the idea in the region.
- Think tanks can create spaces for dialogue among relevant actors of the policy community– an interview with Orazio Bellettini Cedeño, Executive Director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Reforms and Opportunities (Grupo FARO). In the context of the 2006 presidential campaign in Ecuador, Grupo FARO developed the initiative ‘Ciudadanizando las políticas’ with the support of CIES. Afterwards the technology went ‘viral’.
- The experience of Fedesarrollo in presidential campaigns in Colombia, by Leonardo Villar, Executive Director of the Foundation for High Education and Development (Fedesarrollo), a Colombian think tank that developed two experiences intended to influence electoral campaigns, in 2010 and 2014.
- The challenge is refining the think tanks’ ‘technology of influence’ in electoral campaigns– interview with Fernando Straface, Executive Director of the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC). In 2011, CIPPEC developed an initiative called “Agenda for the President”, which has been reflected in the document Promoting a national policy forum: CIPPEC’s “Agenda for the President 2011-2015”. In 2014, CIPPEC started to work on an experience facing 2015 elections, called ‘Argentina Debate’.
- Paraguay Debate: the challenge of nourishing the political debate in times of elections, by Marcelo Mancuello, researcher and consultant of the Center of Analysis and Diffusion of the Paraguayan Economy (CADEP). In 2013, CADEP, Instituto Desarrollo and other 5 civil society organizations developed the Paraguay Debate initiative, in order to nourish the political debate in the country in face of the April 2013 elections.
- Lessons from Latin American think tanks’ role in electoral process – the way forward, by Leandro Echt.
- Implications for think tanks in other regions, by Enrique Mendizabal.