I had the opportunity to help organize a strategy retreat with political party staff from over 10 countries who came to The Netherlands to exchange ideas, prepare for the European Parliament election, and witness a well-organized political party congress, D66. The Hague office of D66 is a great example of a campaign approach that is strategic and research based. They are not hindered by the lack of a voter lists in Netherlands and have designed their own voter research approach through a mix of polling and targeted door-to-door. They have organized field program, even though this technique is fairly new to the Netherlands political culture. They are also organizing phone banks to party members asking for volunteers and financial support – all techniques that some parties in Western Europe find impossible or difficult to do given their “local realities” or political culture.
The proof was in the pudding for D66 with huge victories in the local election in March 2014. The lessons of this election is precisely what I am teaching across the globe – when you go to the grassroots, and engage in face-to-face voter contact, you win, in the short and long term. The European parties who don´t get this, get beyond the discomfort of doing things in a new way, will erode their base and split voters. Parties that innovate one new thing, each election cycle, are the ones who grow and succeed at the ballot box.