Between the 11th-16th of November 2019, Sophie Block, Middle East Programme Officer, facilitated a range of workshops across the Palestinian territories with speaker Pablo Zavala. Mr Zavala is the Director of the Spanish Foundation for the Transition to Democracy (Fundación Transición Española) and an expert in the historical experience of Spain’s transition from authoritarian regime to democracy.
As part of Forward Thinking’s Exploring Divisions programme, the workshops explored three key themes of; leadership, negotiation and reconciliation that were key to the successful transition to democracy in Spain. These themes were felt to be pertinent to the current political dynamics in Palestine The groups targeted ranged from former PLC officials, to graduate students and cross-factional youth groups. The workshops and meetings were conducted in Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron and Jerusalem. Workshops had additionally been planned to take place in Gaza, however, unfortunately due to the security situation during this time, they could not take place.
Throughout the week, participants were keen to explore how the roles of different actors in the Spanish transition related to each other and the success of political bargaining in bringing a diverse range of opinions together for political change. Many were also eager to explore the impact of the Spanish transition on current politics, for example the origin of Basque and Catalan separatists. A number of key insights were drawn by participants. In particular, many were surprised at the success of the transition despite the initial disunity of Spanish political parties, a fact which provided optimism for a number of the participants.