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Political Parties in Closing Space: How Assistance Programs Can Support Resilience


Closing space – increasing restrictions on civil society, independent media, and multi-party political competition – continues to be a challenge across countries and global regions. Free and fair electoral competition between democratic and policy-based parties is crucial to maintaining and expanding democratic space generally. However, due to electoral pressures, political parties may have an incentive to close or open the political space depending on whether they are in or out of power.

This toolkit is intended to support democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG) practitioners in designing and implementing political party assistance programs, given this dual incentive in closing space contexts. The toolkit includes three sets of products – a program guide, a set of program approach infographics, and a set of closing space “scenarios.”


The program guide uses a comic book or “graphic storytelling” format to illustrate dynamics of closing space and democratic functions of political parties in an accessible way. This guide feeds into a “decision tree” for DRG practitioners considering party assistance programs. The program approach infographics provide a deeper dive into program design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation by providing example problem statements, theories of change, and suggested indicators for six common approaches to party assistance programs. The “scenarios” are composite case studies based on several real-world examples of political party resilience in closing space conditions.


  • What challenges do parties face in closing space?
  • How do parties become resilient (operate effectively) in closing space?
  • What are the characteristics of parties and party systems that enhance resilience in closing space?
  • How can international assistance better support political party resiliency in closing space?


The Political Parties in Closing Space Toolkit includes three related products – a program guide, a set of program approach infographics, and a set of closing space “scenarios.”

Political Parties in Closing Space Program Guide

Political Parties in Closing Space Program Approach Infographics

Political Parties in Closing Space Scenarios

Political Parties in Closing Space One Pager

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Global EPT Leader Cooperative Agreement No. AID-OAA-L-15-00007.
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