Working with the National Democratic Institute on Building Coalitions

Dr. Katalin Pécsi-Pollner runs ICJW’s Hungary affiliate Esther’s House Association and represents them on the NDI program, together with representatives from ICJW’s affiliates from Poland, and the Czech Republic. Five ICJW women met up last week at the NDI coalition-building conference in Prague. Katalin explains the background to the event.

The National Democratic Institute

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) ), one of the world’s largest NGOs, established forty years ago and headquartered in Washington, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness, and accountability in government. Its slogan is: “Working for Democracy, Making Democracy Work.”

NDI in Hungary

Hungary ably navigated a democratic transition in the 1990s following the 1989 Revolution overturning communist rule, and joined NATO and the European Union by 2004. Hungary has since experienced setbacks in the rule of law, fair electoral competition, and civic participation.

As part of a regional set of initiatives in Central Europe, NDI focuses on supporting efforts in Hungary to promote pluralistic and inclusive political and social dialogue, at national and local levels, with a particular emphasis on Roma political participation and mainstreaming, as Roma’s communities comprise nearly 10 percent of Hungary’s population.

The NDI programmes use interactive methods in conferences, workshops, and training sessions with emphasis on how to build coalitions, collaborate effectively and how to work with the media.

The Hungarian group in Prague: Bence Gonda, Kata Kárász, Aliz Pocsuvalszki, Péter Árvai, János Orsós,  Anna Orsós, Tamás Büchler, Katalin Pécsi-Pollner, Ágnes Zentay

Esther’s House and the NDI

The Esther’s House Association has been working with NDI since around 2016, along with other Jewish organizations: Sim Shalom, the progressive Jewish community, the Haver Foundation for Informal Jewish Education, and theEcumenical Association of Women Theologians.

Esther’s House has so far participated in three NDI projects:

  1. Coalition building among different ethnic and religious groups:
  2. Fighting against hate speech in the mass media:
  3. Promoting religious freedom: This includes Esther’s House events on Jewish feminist values.

Prague Conference, 16 -18 July, 2023

As part of this project, NDI convened a coalition-building conference, connecting 50 representatives from diverse religious and ethnic minority organizations, civic activists, and journalists from the Visegrad countries – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary – plus Romania, and Ukraine. This event was NDI’s Annual Conference of Advocacy and Collaborative Solutions in the framework of the project “Promoting Religious Freedom and Combating Antisemitism.

Overview of the agenda:

  • Panel discussion: Advocacy in Practice: Amplifying Voices, Driving Change.
  • Hate Speech and the concerning politicization of hate speech.
  • Effective Advocacy for Gender Equality.
  • Exploring the heritage and difficult memory for dialogue.
  • Advocacy for migration and refugee policies that promote dignity.
  • Panel discussion: Cooperation to support self-advocacy, religious freedom, interfaith and interethnic dialogue and next steps of the program.
  • Long Table: How to overcome the barriers in the cooperation.