Academy for social policy: responsibility in politics, stability in time
Academy for social policy: responsibility in politics, stability in time

Institute for social Integration (ISI), Bulgaria

Author: Stefan Georgiev, Head of research department  

During 2003 the Institute for Social Integration (ISI) started its pilot project “For professionalism in politics and encouragement of the civil participation”. The design concept is directly related to the mission and one of its major objectives - development and promotion of representative government as a socially inclusive model. During this period the forefront of public space were standing activities for overcoming social exclusion of people living in small settlements and underdeveloped regions of the country, as well as vulnerability and disintegration of various youth groups. The Institute had reported a problem, emerging from the lack of socially responsible politicians and that threatened the development of legitimate democratic political system and leaded to the interventions of non public actors in the political process.

To participate in the project are selected young politicians from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, representatives of all districts in the country, and at least half of the participants were from communities outside the regional centers. After successful completion of the pilot project it evolved into the "Academy of Social Policy" and it has been  implementing successfully for the eighth consecutive years.

The training course is conducted in five modules, divided into the following themes: Politics. Communication. Intercourse and publicity. Political speech” (1); Political process. Parties and ideologies. Organizational issues and teams. Leadership. Political structures nad staff management.” (2) Political and pre-election campaigns. Political information, analysis and prognosis. Media. Debates”(3); Pre-election campaigns and election day – simulation” (4); Public policies. Organizational management. European union, project cycle” (5); The five modules follow specific ogic, skills and knowledge and it’s required from all the participants to take part in it. Beside that part of the themes are the basics of group dynamic process.

Beside that the participants have the chance for length of service in a political headquarter.


For realization of the project during the years, partners and funding organizations are: Council of Europe, Open Society institute, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Germany), Jean Jaures Foundation (France), Westminster foundation for democracy (UK), “Institute Nikolay Dobrev” Foundation, Bulgarian Socialist party. 

The main object of the project is to stimulate building a new political culture of the young generation. The Institute achieve that by the means of the informal education. To build a generation of politicians who are able to face the public expectations for responsibility, honesty and defending public interests.

The methods and content of the “Academy” face great interest and lead to high efficiency, new skills and knowledge and also forming a new attitude to policy in the young participants.

Since 2003 until now we have 330 graduates from all municipalities of Bulgaria. Part of them have been elected as mayors or municipality counselors, some had taken part in the national parliamentary elections or elections for representatives in the European Parliament. They participate effectively in the party headquarter for all the elections for the past eight years. The network of graduates have a serious professional resources for supporting the process of elaborating and implementing public policies. We have a sustainable team of professionals – sociologists, political scientists, social psychologists and experts in group-dynamic trainings who are extremely valuable for the Institute.

During the past 2010 it was established the Academy Alumni. It’s coming soon this network to be develop and all participants in it to take part in all the other Institute’s activities.

This November ISI is looking forward to complete another successful academy year with 25 new graduated young politicians.   

The total duration of the project each year is eleven months - from January to November and the school year for participants is eight months - from March to November.

It starts with recruitment of project participants. The right to nominate candidates have: the parties of the political left, members of the general meeting of the Institute and academy graduates. A special committee evaluated the candidates who pass through entrance examination consisted of three elements – a camera interview, a test for political culture and motivational essay. The groups are formed form the first 25 candidates with highest grades. Number of the groups depends on the funding and during the years they had varied form one to three each year.

For five modules participants learn through experience – by all means of our method – presentations, discussions, group-dynamic trainings.   

At the end of the training course all graduates are provided with a service in the party headquarter and public appearance to complete the project. They also participate in the annual meeting of all graduated the “Academy” where all young politicians gather to exchange experience and to maintain their connections.  

Young politicians up to 40 years old from the basic social-democratic parties - Bulgarian socialist party, Party “Movement for social humanism”, "Social-democrats" political movement and Bulgarian social-democrats party. The ambition of the team is to achieve representatives on a national level including small settlements. And also to include NGOs’ representatives – a way for strengthening the civil society in Bulgaria.  

Parties from the left, municipalities and local authorities – municipality councils and administration, state institutions and non governmental organizations.  

The publication is in Good practice edition of ENoP