Politics in a strange land
July 15, 2007 12:46 AM   Subscribe

Intern or working for a foreign political party

Here's the thing: I'm a political professional. I currently live in Denver, and I've worked, in both a paid and volunteer capacity, in politics for the better part of two decades.

What I'd like to do is possibly do political work in a foreign country. My preference is for Canada or the UK, but as I know Spanish, I can work in Latin American countries as well.

So--how do I do that? Any clues, O Hive Mind?
posted by arkhangel to Law & Government (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hm, interesting. I don't know the nuts and bolts, but UK Yankee is a good place to ask about the immigration niceties.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:39 AM on July 15, 2007

I know quite a few USians end up interning at the UK parliament. Competition can be quite fierce for internships though - but not being paid ought to make the immigration thing easier. Sites like www.w4mp.org are pretty good to find out what's on offer. If you're thinking in the direction of the UK Conservative Party, feel free to drop me an email and I'll see if I can be of any more specific help.
posted by prentiz at 5:15 AM on July 15, 2007

In Latin America, many countries (such as here in Mexico) have laws on the books barring foreigners from engaging in political activity.
posted by donpedro at 5:45 AM on July 15, 2007

Citation. Also I may have overstated: Probably better to say "some" countries have these laws, since I can't really say with authority which or how many.
posted by donpedro at 6:14 AM on July 15, 2007

There are American students that intern in Ottawa for Canadian Members of Parliament. I know the Bliss Institute is one of the schools that sends people.

In terms of working here for a living, however, I imagine it would be tough. All of Canada's provincial legislatures are unicameral, and we don't elect judges or Crown prosecutors (i.e. District Attorneys). This means that a political professional really only has three opportunities to work on a campaign: municipally, once every three years; provincially and federally, once every four to five years (except in the case of minority government).

Combined with the limited writ period (i.e. period of open campaigning, usually around five weeks) and the draconian campaign finance laws here, this paucity of elections mean that there are probably less than a dozen people in the country who make a living solely by working on elections.

What this means, is that political pros have to find other employment between elections. As a non-citizen, there would be serious bureaucratic difficulties in terms of finding paid employment as exempt staff for a sitting Member (to say nothing of the optics of using taxpayers' money to hire an American). That leaves lobbying, but, in a bit of a catch-22, just like in the US, lobbying firms greatly prefer that you have some experience within government before crossing over to the lobbying side.
posted by ewiar at 7:29 AM on July 15, 2007

Your best introduction might be a U.S. political consulting firm which does overseas business as well. You'd be surprised how many do -- shouldn't be too hard to network to one from your current relationships.
posted by MattD at 8:39 AM on July 15, 2007

Adding onto MattD's idea...there was a recent documentary on the subject called Our Brand is Crisis.
posted by mmascolino at 2:26 PM on July 15, 2007

You might also want to talk to some major US universities (perhaps the one you went to?) with large study abroad programs. When I lived in Prague on a DoD-funded fellowship, we were required to affiliate ourselves with a US-based study abroad program that met certain criteria (which meant all of us ended up going through CIEE) -- but the kids who were there from Columbia seemed to have some great connections. One of my friends ended up working in Vaclav Havel's office! So, if you can find a study abroad program with advisors who actually live over in your target country, they may have some ideas or know who you should talk to...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:16 PM on July 15, 2007

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