Ailbhe Smyth - 2018 Nominee
While this wasn‘t a traditional "party“ election, the civic process around the abortion ban was an important illustration of democracy in action. It began with a citizen’s assembly, representing a cross-section of society, which heard testimonies, deliberated the issues and made recommendations to the government.
People were given the space for thoughtful debate to consider the ethical consequences of keeping or revoking the abortion law. When the referendum was announced, Together for Yes trained and equipped campaigners to go across Ireland to state their case to fellow citizens. People of all ages knocked on doors and talked with family members over the dinner table. It was a campaign that ignited all elements of society, a model for how to engage in civic life.
Thanks to Together for Yes, this was a broad-based win with all of Irish society standing up for the separation of church and state and for a woman‘s right to choose. At a time when there is so much skepticism around democratic processes and political polarization, the repeal the 8th vote had the perfect ingredients for a healthy democracy.
Ailhbe and the Together for Yes campaign can teach so many activists around the world what it means to work over time, broaden your base, be strategic and, eventually, win.
Nominated by: Truman Project for National Security (invited)