Monday, November 20, 2017 09:26:45 PM

Colombia, Sri Lanka and referendums: Interview with Juanita Goebertus

By Groundviews - Thu Nov 09, 7:05 am

Juanita Goebertus is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Integrated Transitions. On a recent trip to Colombo, she shared some thoughts on the Colombian referendum, how it came about, her vast experience around planning for a plebiscite and other insights from her country’s violent history and how it could resonate with Sri Lanka’s constitutional reform process.

We began our conversation with Juanita giving a brief overview of the Colombian referendum – why it was held, the context it was held in, and an overview of what led to its result. Going against all polls and expectations, given the surprising result in Colombia, Juanita is asked what confidence a Sri Lankan desirous of a new constitution can have in a referendum, which today is subject to sophisticated political forces that strengthen, often, the No camp.

Her answer embraces the catastrophic mistakes made by the Yes camp in Colombia, including being very late around the media and communications planning, output and engagement. This leads to a question that probes Juanita more about the role of communications and media strategy around a referendum, and why political leaders need to account for public engagement as an inextricable part of any campaign strategy.

Juanita’s submission that the communications and political strategy needs to embrace popular fears and engage the support base of former leaders is probed in greater detail….

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