One of the most important tools for conservatives working together to advance sound principles worldwide is the International Democrat Union, or IDU. Founded in 1983 by America's Ronald Reagan, Britain's Margaret Thatcher and Germany's Helmut Kohl, the IDU is a global alliance of center-right political parties sharing a common commitment to the principles spelled out in the group's founding document, the London Declaration.
While some may have felt the group's mission was accomplished with the West's victory in the Cold War and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, on closer examination it is clear that the need for conservatives to work together worldwide is as great as ever. While we have seen the spread of democracy in the 20th century, we have not automatically seen the uniform advancement of the center-right principles of free markets, individual liberty, and personal responsibility. Venezuela has worked to export "21st century socialism" throughout Latin America, for example, while Russia uses information warfare to cause problems within NATO nations, the EU, and the United States. Many more examples abound.
Last week at the IDU's Party Leaders Meeting in Spain, the IDU took another step forward toward fulfilling its post-Cold War potential with the election of former Canadian Primer Minister Stephen Harper as President. Harper, a skilled and principled leader who understands how political parties work, is the latest addition to the IDU's new leadership team. Christian Kattner, the skilled political operative from Bavaria's CSU party (the more conservative sister party to Angela Merkel's CDU), came on board as Secretary General in 2014, setting the stage for the group's future growth.
The IDU's greatest potential lies in serving as a dynamic forum for the exchange of ideas and best practices among center-right political parties, both in terms of policies as well as political campaign strategies and tactics. Last year at the IDU Campaign Managers Meeting in Berlin I was introduced to numerous campaign leaders from a variety of countries including the UK, Norway, New Zealand, and a host of others. Each presentation provided insight into techniques, messages and methods used by the campaign teams of each of these parties to advance. It is a critically important function.
With the continued strengthening of the IDU leadership team, I have great confidence we will see a further sharpening of the center-right parties that fully participate in this critically important organization.