The enlargement* of the EU from 15 to 25 states, on 1 May 2004, has been a spectacular success, pointing to the enormous transformative power of the prospect of European integration. Now that the Central and East European Countries (CEECs) have been accepted as new member states, only seven South East European countries remain outside the Union.
The enhancement and development of internal party democracy and democratically functioning party organizational structures are burning issues within the consolidating democracies of South Eastern Europe. Autocratic political leaders and the inability of parties to adequately absorb people's needs in their policies are major factors behind a growing crisis, reflected in declining voter participation in elections.
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) is a non-profit German foundation funded by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, and headquartered in Bonn and Berlin. It was founded in 1925 and is named after Germany's first democratically elected President, Friedrich Ebert. FES is committed to the advancement of both socio-political and economic development in the spirit of social democracy, through civic education, research, and international cooperation. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is the oldest political foundation in Germany.