To improve the quality of the electoral debate by focusing media, political party and civil society attention on key public policies;
To encourage political parties to develop government platforms based on sound policy recommendations.
In the lead-up to the 2006 presidential election, the Consorcio de Investigación Económica y Social (Economic and Social Research Consortium or CIES) implemented a successful project to elevate the quality of the electoral discourse by focusing public attention on key policy priorities and educating voters on candidates’ positions. CIES will build on this past experience and implement a similar effort in the months leading to the 2011 electoral process. CIES will select ten important issues for the development of Peru, and commission policy papers, which it will use to educate voters on policy alternatives. CIES will disseminate the policy papers in seven regions of Peru, conducting interviews with policy specialists and intellectuals, and comparing the documents to political parties’ platforms. CIES will also educate political party representatives on the issues and advocate for their inclusion in party platforms.
This ambitious initiative will be implemented with the support of multiple donors. CIES has already secured funding from the Swiss Cooperation Office, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Japanese Agency for International Development, among others. These commitments comprise more than 50 percent of the total budget for this project. NED support will specifically cover the authorship and other related expenses of one of the policy documents, half of all expenses related to the regional seminars, and staff time dedicated to implementing CIES’s communications strategy.
Drafting of Policy Documents
CIES will select ten key issues for the development of Peru, and solicit the participation of intellectuals and practitioners in the drafting of policy documents addressing these topics. The documents will explore the policy alternatives, provide a cost-benefit analysis, and make recommendations for addressing these challenges in the next government’s administration, 2011-2016. Subject to confirmation by an expert consultative committee, CIES expects to include some of the following themes: 1) inequality; 2) government and conflict management; 3) economic decentralization; 4) citizen security; 5) public management efficiency; 6) labor markets; 7) innovation, science and technology; 8) environmental and climate change management; 9) natural resource management; and 10) drug trafficking.
Using its network of think tanks and university research centers, CIES will convene policy experts to participate in the project. The consultative committee will select the final authors and revise the topics and terms of reference. Once a first draft of the policy documents is completed, they will go through a thorough peer review process to ensure their relevance and accuracy. CIES will convene two or more meetings with researchers, practitioners and civil society representatives to review each document, and validate the analysis and recommendations made. The authors will make revisions based on the meetings, and complete a final draft. Following this validation phase, CIES will edit and format the documents, and print 500 copies of each.
Engaging Political Parties
One of the goals of this project is to influence the drafting of parties’ platforms. CIES will work with the five leading political parties to educate them on the development priorities and policy alternatives recommended by academic experts. CIES will first meet with the committees in charge of drafting the parties’ platforms to present the policy documents more generally. Each party will then select the topics they are most interested in based on ideology or campaign theme, and CIES will organize at least three additional meetings between high level party representatives and policy experts to discuss the selected issues in greater detail. Based on previous experiences, CIES expects the discussions to focus on parties’ governance strategies and long-term vision for the country, as well as concrete recommendations that can be implemented in the coming years.
Dissemination of Policy Documents and Regional Outreach
The documents will be adapted to different formats to reach a wider audience. CIES will implement a concerted media strategy to educate journalists and the public at large about policy priorities and the need to focus the electoral debate on issues rather than personality. CIES will build on its existing directory of media contacts from around the country. It will approach print, radio and TV media organizations to ensure the coverage of its policy discussions. CIES will design materials especially for journalists, which will include an executive journalistic summary of each of the policy documents, a list of questions that all candidates should answer and relevant topics for the development of Peru. CIES will also organize a workshop for 25 leading journalists and opinion-makers from across the country. The daylong workshop will focus on tools for political analysis and communication, and the content of policy documents.
In coordination with its local partners, CIES will also organize public events in the seven largest regions of Peru. CIES will establish contact with civil society, political and private sector leaders to engage them in a thoughtful discussion regarding Peru’s priorities and policy alternatives. CIES will invite the authors of the policy documents or other academic experts to attend the regional events. CIES hopes that some 30 to 50 individuals will attend each event, and that these will be widely covered by the local media. CIES also hopes that its local partners will replicate the event at the provincial level, adapting its content to the priorities and realities on the ground.
At the national level, CIES will meet with the leading news anchors to present and debate the policy proposals, and encourage them to incorporate these themes in their media coverage and in interviews with presidential candidates. CIES will also organize four press conferences, where it will invite the national media and the policy documents’ authors. Furthermore, through its contacts with media organizations across the country, CIES will ensure that the authors of the policy documents are invited to talk shows, interviews and discussions regarding the elections and political parties’ platforms. CIES will also produce and disseminate an insert with a summary of the ten policy proposals through a newspaper with national coverage. Finally, CIES will produce short radio programs promoting responsible voting and its policy priorities, which will be broadcast in the Metropolitan Lima area and the seven target regions where it will conduct public events.