NIMD worked in Suriname from 2003 to 2010. During that period, the political organization of Suriname was closely linked to ethnic groups that were brought to the country during the plantation era. Parties, therefore, had a distinctly ethnic bias, which played a role in the internal distribution of power. Political parties were also strictly managed from the top, which meant that the power of decision largely rested with the chairman, who was often surrounded by a small circle. Patronage was a common phenomenon in Suriname, which is the act of arranging specific favors for one’s own supporters.
The political parties in Suriname functioned in a society where other organizations had authoritative voices, the most outspoken voices being from religious organizations. Social partners (e.g. trade unions) and NGOs were also important, but the government did not cooperate with them closely enough in order to establish substantive policies.
NIMD programme in Suriname
NIMD’s programme in Suriname, officially called “Strengthening of Democracy and Policy Development of Political Parties,” had three main focus areas, which were the multiparty political system, political parties, and the relations between politics and civil society (social partners and NGOs). We also tackled the alleviation of poverty and exchanged knowledge and experience with experts from the region. Political parties found the training programmes, seminars, and workshops very important.
The NIMD programme in Suriname was terminated in 2010. Our implementing partner, the Democracy Unit (DU), continued as an independent organization.