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The paper first looks at the key challenges to political party support programmes, including the new restrictions under COVID-19 that have deepened already existing tendencies of restricting democratic space. This is followed by three separate sections that look at inclusion in political parties, the role of parties in elections, and cooperation between parties (and with other actors) – three areas chosen on the basis of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024. Each section looks at the barriers and the strategies for those supporting the political party system.

The paper concludes with a list of recommendations to policy-makers and practitioners for future EU actions and frameworks that increasingly recognise the key role of political parties in creating inclusive and well-governed societies.