By Jan Mulder (EFF trainer)
"My name is Sandra Šabotić. I'm 30 years old and I have a degree in English language and literature. I became active in politics in 2016, and started doing a nation-wide campaign within my party Democratic Montenegro- Democrats. I am a member of the Local Board of Democrats in Nikšić and the Main Board of Democrats. Currently, I'm working as a secretary and doing translation in English. I also write for an online magazine. Before politics I was engaged in several NGOs related to sports and leisure. To my great satisfaction, I have taken part in the "Young Leaders 2019/ 2020" series organized by Robert Schuman Institute in cooperation with Eduardo Frei Foundation and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung."
What does democracy mean to you?
“An ideal democracy for me consists of conscientious, well-informed, and honourable people who, as such, will be capable to decide how their interests will be ensured to an optimal level and for the benefit of all included. However, this is an active process which requires time, patience, and perseverence and whose outcome depends on many factors.”
What developments do you see that are shaping democracy, in a positive or negative way, in your country?
“When it comes to the development of democracy in my country, I have ambivalent feelings. On one hand, I am overjoyed that we have finally overthrown the government despite elections that were held under far from ideal conditions. Corruption and crime have held my country entrapped for 30 years, Also, adoption of the law on marriage among people of the same sex is an important milestone for me, in a still quite, patriarchal society such as Montenegrin. That clearly shows me that Montenegrin people have reached maturity to change for the better. On the other hand, I am a bit concerned about the impact this corrupt system will have, and the challenges we face to truly become a democratic society.
What do you like about politics and what motivates you to be active in politics?
“What I like best about politics is that literally any person can give some kind of contribution to making a better future for themselves. My motivation for being active in politics could fit into three words: knowledge, improvement, and results. Being involved in politics always means learning, be it the exchange of information with citizens or with people from academia there is always room to learn something daily. This further leads to improvement of both me as a person and a politician, and of my professional skills, and using this knowledge and making improvements to it leads to tangible results in many ways. “
Of which political achievement are you most proud?
“Currently, I am mostly proud that I was a part of the aforementioned long-desired changes in my country and that I have encouraged some people not to give up when we are so close to the victory. Also, I am proud that I inspired some young, educated, and honest people to become involved in politics. “
What is the added value of trainings (from organisations like the EFF) to your (political) development? Why is it so important that you follow these trainings?
“Political training is an essential tool for the development of young politicians that has no substitute. Nothing can be more valuable of learning from a person that has achieved so much during their political career, that has faced many challenges, and that has been motivated to endure the process despite difficulties. Their knowledge and encouragement has no price. “
What was for you the most memorable moment during the trainings?
“The most memorable part during the trainings for me was also one of the least pleasant ones. We had been assigned a task which involved us presenting ourselves as if for running a campaign. We have been given too little time to prepare a speech which would convince people to vote for us. I realized that time restraint does not have to be a bad thing since one can never be completely ready. I also realized that no matter how a person is good at what they do, and no matter how self-confident they may appear, the truth is- you always have some doubts and it is totally fine. No one can actually notice how nervous you might be, and if your message is well-grounded and honest, success is guaranteed. This experience perfectly illustrates the value of the trainings. “
What kind of support would you, or other young people active in your country, need more?
“I think that the most important kind of support would be encouraging young people to get involved in the political process. Many young, but not exclusively young, people have prejudices against politics. It is, unfortunately, often looked upon as a dirty thing that is not worthy of consideration. Although I am aware why it is so when it comes to my country, it is essential that young people get the right messages and raise their awareness on how powerful and proactive they may be if simply they give it a chance. “