EPD sends out a weekly democracy news update, Beyond Ballots. The updates cover democracy in the news as well as academic and policy-relevant articles on democracy assistance and development. Here you can find our previous editions. You can subscribe by typing your email address into the box on the right hand side of this page.
15 February 2018
A LA UNE
South African President Jacob Zuma has stepped down after initially refusing his party’s order to resign because of a corruption scandal, thereby making way for deputy president and party leader Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Ethiopian government has freed opposition leader Bekele Gerba and 7 others amidst a paralysing social boycott in the Oromia region, which was set to last 3 days but turned into a celebration and street-cleaning day after the release of these 8.
Thousands of Bangladeshi opposition supporters took to the streets last Monday to demand free and fair elections as well as the release of jailed opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who was imprisoned for corruption 5 years ago.
In an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail, Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson show the drivers of populism are not economic grievances but cultural insecurities, and provide clear pointers for conversations with populist party supporters.
Hubert Hermans has published a book on democracy as a source of self and identity, rather than an organising principle of society, arguing that a democratic society can only flourish if its citizens have a democratically organised self.
A new International IDEA publication considers the impact of the rise in conflict, democratic backsliding and new technology on corruption and organised crime networks through a scenario building exercise.
From 23 to 31 March, The Hague holds the Movies that Matter Festival. The festival screens documentaries on people who fight for democracy, freedom of speech, environmental protection, migration and gender equality. In between screenings, directors and activists enter discussions on the topics of their life’s work. More information is available here.
8 February 2018
A LA UNE
In a national referendum last Sunday, Ecuadorians overwhelmingly voted for a re-installment of presidential term limits, which President Moreno called a triumph for democracy in a region where similar referenda have often been ignored.
For the first time since the end of military rule, Guineans voted in long-delayed local elections on Sunday, but accusations of electoral fraud sparked riots and violence which left several dead, including 5 children.
Days after the EU condemned the Republic of Equatorial Guinea for human rights abuses and infringements on democratic freedoms, President Obiang Nguema has dissolved the government by decree, just two months ago after it was elected.
In an article in African Arguments, Nanjala Nyabola challenges foreign governments’ “Stability Doctrine” in Africa, arguing it privileges short-term economic gain under an autocracy at the cost of long-term prosperity and human dignity.
Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart have published the first chapter of their new book called “Cultural Backlash”, in which they discuss the rise of Authoritarian-Populism in Europe and the US and the ways it threatens liberal democracy.
In a Wilson Quarterly article, Nina Jankowicz advances compelling arguments for investing in civic education and media literacy to protect democracy against disinformation and Russian influence, rather than implementing technical quick fixes.
From 2 to 8 July 2018, the annual Transparency International School on Integrity (TISI) will take place in Vilnius. This annual anti-corruption and accountability training teaches young future leaders about corruption detection and eradication methods and civic empowerment tools, through a combination of lectures, seminars, discussions, field trips, film screenings and practical trainings. TISI is now welcoming applications for this year’s summer school. More information is available on the Transparency School website.
1 February 2018
A LA UNE
While the Kenyan opposition coalition inaugurated Raila Odinga as “the people’s president”, the Kenyatta-led government shut down television stations broadcasting the ceremony and declared the group a criminal organisation.
The opposition parties in the Maldives have petitioned the Supreme Court to remove President Yameen, accusing him of misrule, rights abuse and corruption, in what some call a desperate attempt to hold the government accountable before elections.
Pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong have taken to the streets last Sunday after democracy-activist Agnes Chow was disqualified from running in the hotly contested legislative elections in March.
Al Jazeera’s Iran reporter Zein Basravi reflects on political developments since the December protests, arguing that protesters successfully got the 2018 budget rejected, but the much-desired open dialogue and transparency remain elusive.
In an article on Power3.0, Professor Steven Feldstein analyses the hybrid nature of repression in China which combines online and offline activities, thereby making use of the underdeveloped human rights regulations regarding online repression.
A new Afrobarometer report on Uganda shows support for democracy is growing, even though there is a steady decline in support for democratic values, the perceived quality of elections and satisfaction with the way democracy works in Uganda.
From 9 to 11 March 2018, Democracy International and the Wuppertal university organise a symposium on political culture and active citizenship. The seminars will compare different countries’ use of direct democratic instruments, with the aim of understanding whether these instruments inspire more participation and active citizenship. More information is available here.
25 January 2018
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Another six people have been killed as a result of President Kabila’s clinging to power, after the DR Congo’s security forces forcefully cracked down on peaceful church-led protests in Kinshasa last Sunday, infuriating the Congolese church.
Egypt’s upcoming elections are losing their credibility by the day, as this week one Presidential hopeful was arrested by the security forces and another withdrew his candidacy citing unsurmountable constraints to running against President el-Sisi.
China continues its campaign against free speech and democracy activism, with this week’s victims being a Hong Kong-based book publisher who had been jailed for 2 years before, and a human rights lawyer who had been calling for political reform.
In the International Politics and Society Journal, Jan-Werner Mueller tempers the hope that political movements like En Marche will make Europe more democratic, arguing their leadership style and movement dynamics might just do the opposite.
An aticle by Brett Carter in the Journal of Democracy examines the international dimension of the struggle for democracy in Central Africa’s autocracies, looking at autocrats’ financial power and diasporas’ international advocacy efforts.
The Freedom House report on civil and political freedoms in 2017 argues democracy faced its most serious challenge in decades last year, amongst others due to declining freedoms in the US and the growing influence of China and Russia.
From 5 to 14 March 2018, EPD member People in Need organises One World, their international Human Rights documentary film festival in Prague. In addition to the screening of numerous documentaries about political and human rights activists, there will be discussions and debates with film directors and activists. The festival will be opened with the Homo Homini Award ceremony, where the Czech international human rights prize will be awarded. More information can be found here.
18 January 2018
A LA UNE
Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced to 2 years in prison on charges of spreading false information about the government, in a trial that was condemned by human rights groups as politically motivated and unfair.
In the Philippines, the independent news outlet Rappler has been shut down after a legal body under President Duterte declared the company violated constitutional rules of media ownership, which Rappler argues is just a pretext to restrict media freedom.
Two weeks after the unexpected promise to release all political prisoners, the Ethiopian government has now released over 500 political prisoners, including opposition leader Merera Gudina, who stated he is open to dialogue with the government.
Will President Macron’s fake news law protect or threaten democracy? This Politico debate pits Aurore Belfrage, in favour of the legislation, against Alberto Alemanno, who argues the only effective solution will come from social media companies themselves.
In the latest issue of Government and Opposition, Professor Kelemen sheds light on the EU’s role in addressing democratic backsliding in member states by comparing the EU to democratic countries with subnational challenges of authoritarianism.
International IDEA has published a guide for developing user-friendly online transparency registers on party and campaign finance, based on the experience of 16 oversight agencies that have already introduced such online systems.
From 8 to 10 March 2018, the “Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference” will take place in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, US. The conference brings together community leaders, government staff, democracy practitioners and researchers to discover and debate innovative new strategies and tools to empower active citizenship and direct participation in government. More information is available here.
11 January 2018
A LA UNE
Tunisians all over the country are protesting in large numbers against the government’s new austerity measures, including a tax rise on fuel, internet and food, with opposition parties and labour unions outraged at the already dire economic situation.
The date for Egypt’s Presidential election has finally been set for March 2018, but there are obvious concerns about its fairness, as the strongest contender Ahmed Shafik just withdrew his candidacy – allegedly under force – while another candidate was imprisoned.
Thousands of Hondurans took to the streets last Sunday in a protest led by opposition leader Salvador Nasralla, demanding new elections after the highly controversial Presidential elections last November.
A new study on fake news consumption during the 2016 US Presidential campaign shows that, although one in four Americans visited a fake news website in the period of study, exposure was shallow and marginal relative to the consumption of regular news.
In an article in The Washington Post, Richard Cockett explains why even Myanmar’s democracy activists do not stand up for the Rohingya, with an analysis of the historical roots of anti-Muslim prejudice and the shallow support for democratic values.
Richard Youngs from Carnegie Europe criticises Europe’s failure to respond to the vacuum in democracy and human rights support left by President Trump and calls on the EU to practice what it preaches and step up its efforts in democracy support.
On 15 and 16 February, the European Federation of Journalists organises the Free European Media Conference 2018 in Gdansk. This 2-day conference will focus on the dynamics between media pluralism and democracy in Europe, as the current climate of shrinking democratic space, fake news and declining media pluralism necessitates such a discussion. More detailed information is available here.
4 January 2018
A LA UNE
Ethiopia’s prime minister has announced he will close down the notorious Maekewali prison, and pardon and free all political prisoners – a surprising move to “widen the democratic space for all”, which contrasts the violent crackdown on recent protests demanding just that.
Demonstrators in Kiev are outraged at the murder of Ukrainian activist attorney Iryna Nozdrovska on Monday, days after she defied the culture of corruption by securing jail-time for the man responsible for her sister’s death, who was related to a high-profile judge.
A year after the Saint Sylvestre Accord in which President Kabila promised to step down and hold new elections before 2018, people across the DR Congo are protesting, once again facing violent security forces and a social media shutdown.
Contributing to the debate on political finance regulations and corruption, a new V-Dem study based on data from 154 countries finds political finance subsidies do reduce corruption and embezzlement in particular, even when implementation is uneven.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Christian Caryl analyses the socio-economic and political context of the current protests in Iran, arguing this is a new generation of protestors who are far more confrontational and desperate for change.
In a two-fold article on Open Democracy, two political scientists propose the term “left-transformation” rather than “left-populism” for movements like podemos, arguing the foundation on hope and justice politics distinguishes these movements from populism.
On 24 January 2018, the London School of Economics will host democracy scholars Dr Klaas and Dr Hopkin to talk about the way President Trump challenges democratic norms with his tactics and tweets. Dr Klaas will present his book on the subject, entitled “The Despot’s Apprentice”. More information is available here.
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Malaysia’s Election Commission has been given the green light to redraw the voting district boundaries of over half of the constituencies, in a move criticised for creating ethnic majorities and favouring the ruling party ahead of the 2018 elections.
With a crowd reminiscent of the protests 4 years ago, up to 10.000 supporters of former Georgian President Saakashvili rallied in Kiev last Sunday, demanding the impeachment of Ukraine’s President Poroshenko on corruption charges.
After a heated – and at times violent – debate, the Ugandan Parliament has now passed a bill which scraps presidential age limits, increases terms of office from 5 to 7 years and restores the 2-term limit, making it possible for Museveni to rule until 2037.
With polling data on demographics, digital access and political engagement in India, Cuba, the US, Israel and Germany, a new Bertelsmann Foundation report entitled Disrupting Democracy examines the impact of digital innovation on these 5 countries.
A paper by Democracy Reporting International warns against talk about “populism”, “illiberal democracy” and the “crisis of democracy”, as these frames only strengthen those who have appropriated the terms and embedded them in their own ideology.
Crisis Group has published a report on the current political situation in Zimbabwe, stressing the importance of international pressure regarding electoral and political reform as well as inclusive national dialogue on economic reforms.
On 17 January 2018, the Chatham House in London holds a debate on the Future of the Liberal World Order. With a panel of international relations professors from the University of Amsterdam, Sussex, Exeter and the City University, the debate will consider the challenges to the liberal world order in 2018, with special attention to the position of the Trump-led United States and China. More information is available here.
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Tensions in Honduras are dangerously high 2 weeks after the Presidential elections, with 14 casualties from protests, no officially declared winner, a rejection of results by the opposition candidate Nasralla, and irregularities according to election observers.
After months of protests calling for an end to the Gnassingbe dynasty, the Togolese government has made another move to appease the opposition by freeing two politically engaged Imams whose arrests in October led to deadly clashes.
The self-declared republic of Somaliland has set an example of a peaceful and democratic transfer of power in the Horn of Africa, as a new President is sworn in after relatively incident-free elections last month.
The Iraqi people have a history of inter-communal harmony and civic engagement, and should therefore be given real agency in political processes, argue the authors of the new book on state-society relations, citizenship and democratisation in Iraq.
In an article for the Shorenstein center, Professor Claes de Vreese looks at populism as a communication phenomenon which challenges journalism in an unprecedented way, providing 10 guidelines for journalists covering populist movements.
The National Endowment for Democracy has released a report that analyses Chinese and Russian influence in four nascent democracies, arguing their “sharp power”, as opposed to EU soft power, is targeted at manipulating information flows to citizens of these countries.
On 25 January 2018, the College of Europe will hold a conference in Bruges on the EU’s relations with its neighbours from an institutional perspective. The conference will focus on the institutional challenges and lessons learned from the various types of relations. More information and a registration form are available here. Please register by 22 January 2018.
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Gambian president Barrow launched the country’s first independent broadcaster this week, signaling an important change of course for media freedom in The Gambia, after 22 years of journalist harassment and state-directed media during Jammeh’s Presidency.
Despite a plebiscite last year in which Bolivians rejected a constitutional amendment on presidential term limits, the Bolivian supreme court has overruled the constitution and popular vote, enabling President Evo Morales to stand for reelection in 2019.
After announcing his candidacy for the 2018 Presidential election on social media, Egyptian Colonel Ahmed Konsowa was detained for stating his political views as a member of the army – which he has been trying to resign from for years.
International IDEA has published a report on the Global State of Democracy, which explores democracy’s resilience to backsliding, the crisis of representation, migration, inequality, post-conflict transitions and corruption.
An International Crisis Group report analyses the political stalemate in the DR Congo and calls on Western and regional powers to engage the opposition, build confidence between all parties and hold President Kabila to the agreed-upon electoral timeline.
In an article in Foreign Policy, Sebastian Strangio takes a grim view on the state of Cambodia’s democracy in an analysis of recent events, arguing Chinese support is strengthening the regime to crush down opposition and cement autocratic rule.
On 20 February 2018, the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy will take place. For this 10th edition, the summit will give the floor to pro-democracy actors from Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Russia and Turkey, amongst others. More information about the speakers and programme of the summit are available here. A registration form is available here.
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Whilst the Honduran Presidential elections were already controversial before the vote due to the change of the presidential term limits, tensions have now risen even further as people are still waiting for half of the results and both candidates have already proclaimed victory.
After a highway sit-in paralysed Islamabad for 3 weeks, Pakistan’s army has brokered an agreement between the government and the protesting religious conservatives, acceding to protestors’ demands in ways that threaten democracy, according to some.
Days after 4 UN peacekeepers were killed, Mali’s government has announced they will postpone regional elections scheduled for December to April 2018 due to security concerns, while remaining silent on the date of the Presidential elections in July 2018.
What next for democracy? The Fondation pour l’innovation politique aims to answer that question in a book of analyses of their new data from 26 countries on trust in institutions and support for democratic procedures and values.
Even though India is often praised as the world’s largest democracy, a CIVICUS report reveals India’s vibrant civil society is increasingly being restricted through burdensome legislation on registration and funding since the election of Prime Minister Modi.
In an article in the International Politics and Society Journal, Anchrit Wille and Mark Bovens argue the over-representation of hyper-qualified politicians in governments constitutes a major democratic deficit and creates the conditions that enable populism.
On the evening of 5 December 2017, Carnegie Europe will present their research findings on the widespread corruption in Tunisia and its impact on the country’s fragile democratic transition. The presentation will be followed by a moderated discussion panel on the issue of Tunisia’s corruption contagion. More information and a registration form are available here.
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Even though the Cambodian Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the country’s main opposition party did not come as a surprise after the party leader’s arrest in September, it is an unprecedented, potentially fatal, blow to democracy in Cambodia.
Zimbabweans have been dancing in the streets these past few days and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in as the new President on Friday, after the military forced President Robert Mugabe to resign after 37 years in office.
Kenya’s Supreme Court has voted to uphold President Kenyatta’s victory in the controversial election rerun, thereby ending the political impasse that cost 54 lives these last few months, but leaving the country deeply divided.
Current developments in Zimbabwe beg the question, can military coups bring forth democracy? In his new book The Democratic Coup d’Etat, Professor Ozan Varol tackles precisely this question and clarifies why some coups lead to democracy.
In this week’s long read in The Guardian, editor Katharine Viner aptly analyses the current political, economic and social environment, calling upon journalists to take up their responsibility of reporting in a fact-based, citizen-focused, and multi-perspective way.
In an article in the New Yorker, Adrian Chen provides a unique insight into the current state of democracy and human rights in the Philippines, detailing the lived reality of the war on drugs as well as President Duterte’s personal and political background.
From 4 to 8 December 2017, CIVICUS will hold their International Civil Society Week in Suva, Fiji. This global gathering will focus on issues of the global crisis of democracy and clampdown on people’s freedoms, as well as environmental sustainability and the future of civil society.
More information is available here.
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The succession struggle within the Zimbabwean ruling party is escalating, as the army has now seized state TV and has come out in support of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former Vice President who was ousted last week to pave the way for President Mugabe’s wife.
Somaliland’s Presidential Elections last Monday proceeded without too many disturbances, according to international election observers, although the government did shut down social media during the vote in order to quell rumours of false results.
A large march in Warsaw attracted as many as 60.000 people in celebration of Poland’s Independence Day, amongst whom many far-right groups proclaiming anti-democratic values and messages.
In an article in Perspectives on Politics, Sarah Bush questions the neutrality of the Freedom in the World ratings – widely used as a guideline in political and investment decisions – emphasising the ideological nature and power relations inherent in these ratings.
In an in-depth analysis on Open Democracy, Helen Margetts assesses the different responses to the way social media is changing the democratic landscape, arguing a multifaceted and collaborative response to social media pathologies is needed.
A Discussion Paper by European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) reviews Tunisia’s decentralisation process, arguing they are taking the right steps towards local democracy, but should not postpone municipal elections any further.
On 5 December, Friends of Europe will host a discussion on the future of the Western Balkans. The region is at a crossroads at present, with on the one hand the prospect of accession to the EU, but on the other hand instability, ethnic tensions and insecurity. Which path will the Western Balkans take? The discussion will focus on the prospects of peace, democracy and reconciliation, on private sector reforms, and on the role of local governments in those issues.
A detailed programme and registration information can be found here.
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After months of repressing protests, the Togolese government has now changed tactics by asking for dialogue with the opposition, releasing 42 protesters, dropping charges against the opposition leader and lifting the ban on weekday protests.
Tuesday was a good day for pluralism in Indonesia, as the Indonesian Constitutional Court recognised native religions on official identification cards, thereby protecting adherents of such faiths from prosecution under the blasphemy law.
Over ten thousand Romanians came out to the streets on Sunday to protest a law change that is said to undermine anti-corruption efforts, by weakening the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office and strengthening the position of the justice minister.
Latin American democracy is at a crossroads, risking sliding back into authoritarian populism if politicians do not become more transparent and representative while actively involving citizens, concludes the analysis by Sandra Weiss in International Politics and Society.
The Institute for Economics and Peace has published the 2017 Positive Peace Report, which details levels of positive peace worldwide through governance, corruption and free information indicators, and provides policy advice to strengthen positive peace.
An African Arguments article analyses Zambian President Lungu’s recent threats to the Constitutional Court and argues this marks a shift from publicly supporting democracy to full-out state capture without a democratic façade.
On 30 November 2017, the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), International IDEA and Enable.ist hold the third edition of Innovating Democracy. The topic of this year’s conference is the transforming political landscape, with a special focus on technological innovations and their impact on democratic processes. More information, a detailed programme and the registration form are available here.
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At a time of international outcry over the Rohingya crisis, tens of thousands of Myanmar citizens came out on the streets last Sunday in support of Myanmar’s army, which is gaining in popularity at the expense of the pro-democracy government.
Just weeks after similar developments in Kenya, the Liberian Supreme Court has now halted preparations for next week’s presidential run-off after both opposition and ruling party candidates have taken to the Supreme Court to challenge the results.
Students and parents from a Muslim private school took to the streets in Asmara on Tuesday to protest restrictions imposed on the school by the autocratic Eritrean government, which forcefully repressed the rare protest, killing 28 citizens.
A publication by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung analyses the role of social movements in processes of democratic renewal in Southeastern Europe, examining country-specific dynamics and providing recommendations for organisations in the field.
International IDEA has published a new edition of the Constitution-Building Primer which focuses on the different government formation and removal mechanisms in parliamentary democracies.
In contrast to initial optimism for Kyrgyzstan’s democratic progress after the recent elections, a comprehensive report by the International Partnership for Human Rights uncovers a list of irregularities, like misuse of public resources and media restrictions.
On 30 May 2018, Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) will hold the Annual Policy Dialogue Day at the Wallenberg Conference Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden. Together with the Quality of Government Institute (QoG), Governance and Local Development (GLD), and the Uppsala Conflict Data Programme (UCDP), V-Dem invites practitioners, policy-makers and academics to exchange views on issues of democracy, governance, conflict and corruption. More information will be made available in due course on the V-Dem website.
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Argentina’s legislative elections last Sunday were marked by the discovery of the body of a missing indigenous rights activist, sparking public outrage at the security forces and the state of the rule of law in the country.
Fundamental human rights are at risk in Tajikistan, as the government has drawn up a register of 367 homosexual citizens who will be subjected to mandatory examinations for sexually transmitted diseases, as part of operations called “purge” and “morality”.
All eyes are on Kenya this week as citizens once again return to the polls in a contentious election rerun which the opposition party has boycotted, making many Kenyans question the legitimacy of the vote even before ballots are cast.
Is citizen participation actually good for democracy? In his new book The Participation Gap, Professor Russell Dalton argues citizen participation strengthens democracy only if it is equal, as opposed to the current inequality in non-electoral participation.
A V-Dem working paper has found that the most effective way for the EU to promote democracy is through a combination of civil society aid and sanctions, as this introduces both upward and downward pressures for democratic changes.
Concord’s newly published AidWatch report for 2017 stresses that progress in EU development cooperation is too slow and too limited to meet the 2025 targets, as the increase in total EU aid in 2017 is offset by an increase in the share of inflated aid.
On 6 and 7 December 2017, Transparency International will hold a conference in Brussels on the influence of money in politics. The conference will bring together policy-makers, political and civil society actors and international institutions to discuss political corruption, parliamentary ethics, lobby transparency, and party and campaign finance.
More information on the event and a registration form are available here. A detailed programme is available here.
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Journalists worldwide grieve over the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, known for leading the Panama Papers investigations in Malta – she is the 28thjournalist to be killed this year.
Disillusionment with politics is rife amongst opposition-supporting Venezuelans after the ruling party’s victory in the regional elections, which the opposition has rejected amid irregularities and polling station relocations the day before the vote.
The Kyrgyz opposition candidate for presidency accepted his defeat in last Sunday’s elections, paving the way for the country’s first peaceful transition of power through competitive elections despite some concerns over vote-buying.
In the latest issue of the Journal of Democracy, Prof. Paul Howe argues Europeans and Americans’ decreasing commitment to democratic norms and institutions reflects a broader social malaise that needs to be challenged by reengaging people in the social contract.
A research paper by the Institute for Security Studies argues corruption through party finance is hampering democracy and development in Africa, elaborating on different disclosure methods, the need for democracy within parties and resources for dialogue.
A Human Rights Watch report reveals Kenya’s recent elections were not only marked by procedural irregularities, but also by excessive police violence costing the lives of 67 citizens – thereby stressing the urgency of democratic reforms.
From 8 to 10 November 2017, the Council of Europe will host the World Forum for Democracy 2017 in Strasbourg. Given the rising threat of populism worldwide, this annual 3-day forum will focus on the role of political parties and media in the rise of populism. Through plenary sessions, panel discussions, labs and cultural events, this forum will provide a holistic understanding of populism from many different perspectives.
More information and a detailed programme are available here. Online registration is open until 25 October 2017.
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The Cambodian government has taken the first steps to dissolve the opposition party by taking it to the Supreme Court on charges of plotting a coup, thereby crushing hopes for competitive elections next year and a democratic future more generally.
Zimbabwean President Mugabe has strengthened his grip on power with a cabinet reshuffle, whereby he created a ministry to crack down on social media activism and stripped the Vice President, a contender for succession, from his competencies.
In Turkey, human rights activists and journalists continue to be the target of repressive jurisdictions on questionable charges of “terrorism”, with this week’s targets including the Turkish Amnesty International director and a journalist from the Wall Street Journal.
An absorbing article in Open Democracy by Richard Youngs analyses the worldwide rise in protest, arguing that today’s protests are defined by their eclecticism, the uneasy coalitions of protesters, and the trend towards community-level protests.
To bridge the literature on electoral integrity and political regime types, a new book edited by Holly Ann Garnett and Margarita Zavadskaya looks into questions of political efficacy and turnout, the threat of electoral violence and protest, and regime change.
An investigation by Philip Kleinfeld from IRIN sheds light on the ongoing political crisis in the DR Congo, presenting a bleak picture of President Kabila, adamant about his seat in government, and citizens increasingly willing to fight him with violence.
On 20 October 2017, EuroMed Rights will celebrate their 20th anniversary with an event reflecting on 20 years of defending human rights and creating cooperation and dialogue between both sides of the Mediterranean. The event will centre around the question whether 20 years of EuroMed Rights work has resulted into a EuroMed civil society. Please confirm your participation with Alvaro Lagresa, or call +32 2 503 06 86.
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Crimean Tartar leader Ilmi Umerov has become the latest victim of repression of speech in Russian-annexed Crimea, as he was sentenced to prison on charges of separatism after a trial deemed politically motivated by human rights groups.
This year’s Gandhi commemoration day in India was marked by hundreds of journalists protesting the murder and intimidation of numerous journalists this month, demanding peace, media freedom and government protection.
Unrest continues in Cameroon, as Anglophones symbolically declared independenceduring a march last Sunday, amid restrictions on public gatherings and forceful police intervention which has resulted in 7 deaths this week.
An in-depth article in International Politics and Society Journal analyses the limitations of EU election observer missions in Africa, arguing democracy must be built on existing traditional African decision-making processes instead of EU models.
The European Union Institute for Security Studies has published an elaborate report on resilience in the Western Balkans, including chapters on democratisation through EU integration, civil society space and institutional fragility in the region.
A comparative analysis of regime change indicators by Varieties of Democracy uncovers some highly problematic issues of conceptualisation in regime change research, which leads to a lack of reliable, cumulative knowledge on the phenomenon.
On 20 October, the College of Europe will hold a workshop on civil society in the Eastern Neighbourhood Policy, assessing the changing situation of civil society in the Southern and Eastern neighbourhood countries in relation to the political transformations in the region. The workshop will look into the institutional and socio-political conditions needed for civil society to be a powerful actor in democratisation, as well as related security risks.
More information about the event and registration is available here.
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Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been sentenced to 5 years in prison over corruption charges, which some interpret as an attempt by the military regime to erase her pro-democracy red-shirt movement in light of next year’s elections.
Millions of Iraqi Kurds voted for independence in the historic referendum this week, at the dismay of Iraq, Turkey, Iran and other regional powers who pressure the Kurdish leadership with strong language and an air traffic boycott.
Unseen chaos erupted between Ugandan parliamentarians this week, with a gun allegedly entering the parliament, over a constitutional amendment on the presidential age-limit, enabling another term for President Yoweri Museveni.
Whereas globally democratic progress has stagnated in the past decade, democracy is deepening and spreading in Asia, according to a compelling article in The Diplomatwhich specifies contemporary challenges to democracy in Asia.
A new working paper by Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) explains the uneven successes of democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa by considering the late colonial legacy of introducing democratic elements as a determining factor for success.
In a provocative article on Open Democracy, Alina Rocha Menocal explores why democracy has struggled to deliver on peace and prosperity, and why it is nevertheless worthwhile for the international development community to support democracy.
On 17 October 2017, the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) organises a conference on young European citizens’ e-participation in democratic life. Two panels of experts will explore the challenges for youth participation in policy-making and suggest some digital tools that can help overcome these challenges. More information about the event can be found here. Please register here.
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It has been a rough week for Tunisia’s fragile democratisation process, with a controversial cabinet reshuffle, a corruption amnesty law sparking street protests, and yet another delay in the first local post-revolution elections.
There has been significant unrest in Kenya llowing the annulment of elections, with protesters accusing the Supreme Court of bias, insecurity concerning the election re-run date, and opposition parties demanding more drastic reforms.
Is democracy good for peace? To mark the International Day of Democracy, a Washington Post article explores the opportunities and challenges of democracy in insecure countries.
At a time of disillusionment with present-day democratic procedures, International IDEA published an elaborate guide on tools for direct democracy and recommendations on the usage of referendums and the like.
The Fight for Democracy – that is the theme of the latest issue of the Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung’s report series, exploring topics like civil society strength, peaceful conflict-resolution and the International Criminal Court.
On 26 September 2017, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, EPD, the University of Birmingham and the European Endowment for Democracy will host a discussion on how to resist attempts to close political space and restrict civil society. The discussions will focus on parliamentarians’ role in protecting political space, activist responses and ‘politically smart’ democracy support. More information can be found here.
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The Togolese government shut down the internet this week, in an attempt to repress ongoing street and online protests demanding that the Gnassingbé family step down at the next elections after 50 years in power.
Halimah Yacob has been declared Singapore’s first female and first Muslim Malay president, after an “election” without contenders, as others were denied candidacy for failing to meet the stringent requirements.
Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-che confessed to charges of threatening Chinese national security with his pro-democracy campaign in his trial on Monday, which supporters say he was coerced to do.
At a time of crisis for democracy, renowned democracy scholar Pippa Norris publishes a book with evidence of the success of electoral assistance programmes, making a strong case for reinforcing democracy support worldwide.
Like most referenda lately, the upcoming referendum on Kurdish independence on 25 September is highly controversial. In an in-depth article in the New York Times, Tim Arango explores the points of contention and motivations behind the referendum.
With violence slowly decreasing in Syria, the European Council on Foreign Relationspoints to the need to establish a democratic political framework, suggesting Europe should push for decentralisation to allow for some autonomy for opposition regions.
In the week of 25 to 28 September, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) hold their annual Africa Week, this year focusing on the youth’s role in, amongst others, online political activism, political empowerment of women and political mobilization. Additional information about the various events can be found here.
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After a crackdown on independent press in Cambodia last week, the police have now arrested the leading opposition politician Kem Sokha on charges of treason – which the EU has said is yet another government effort to curb democratic space.
Millions of Cameroonian schoolchildren were absent on their first day of school, due to the ongoing teacher strikes over the marginalisation of Anglophone citizens, whose discontent is intensifying in the run-up to next year’s elections.
On a brighter note, the annulment of Kenya’s presidential elections by the Supreme Court was an unprecedented victory for democracy in Africa. It has, however, sparked criticism of the election observers who had endorsed the now annulled election.
How democratic are international institutions and organisations? Three researchers from the External Democracy Promotion network (EDP) enter the debate on international democratisation in an article in the Swiss Political Science Review.
As communal violence in Myanmar is escalating, the International Crisis Group has published a report on the difficulties of striking a balance between democratic governance and Buddhism in Myanmar.
Whilst democracy is one of the EU’s core principles, the EU has not taken any serious legal steps to hold member states like Poland and Hungary to this principle. The Carnegie Foundation explains the reasons why in a compelling in-depth analysis.
How can we bring the demos back into democracy? This year’s conference for the International Day of Democracy will be held on 27 September in Brussels and will focus on the state of democracy in Europe and beyond. EPD and its partners welcome you at 10.30 at the European Parliament. Additional information about the event can be found here.
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Russians protested over the government’s attempts to tighten controls on internet use – around 1,000 citizens took part in the capital city of Moscow in a demonstration against these restrictions, during which dozens were arrested by the police.
In Cambodia, recent developments, such as the suspension of radio programmes, have sparked the United Nations to call on the Cambodian government to guarantee the respect of political and civil rights.
What will it take to ensure press freedom in Azerbaijan? The independent Turan News Agency reported that its director has been jailed by the authorities as a suspect in a tax-evasion and abuse-of-power investigation.
A thought-provoking report developed by V-Dem analyses the progress made by a number of new democracies, which have emerged in the past several decades, towards deepening democratic institutions.
Under what conditions can internet freedom be defended in Thailand? Janjira Sombatpoonsiri of the Thammasat University in Thailand showcases the attempts of the Thai government to control the internet and online dissent.
In the Atlantic, Shadi Hamid looks at the events in Cairo from 2013, which led to the fall of the post-revolutionary government of the Muslim Brotherhood, and paved the way for the regime of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
On 18 September 2017, ECES is hosting a book launch and debate on “Mechanisms of Citizen Participation and Direct Democracy” at the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. The main theme of the publication is the different direct democracy mechanisms that have been carried out in 25 countries around the world. A detailed agenda will be available soon. In order to register, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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How will the upcoming elections influence Nepal’s turbulent journey to democracy? On Monday, the Nepalese government announced that new general elections will take place this year on 26 November.
Under what conditions can freedom of expression be applied to Myanmar’s military? A former Myanmar child soldier was arrested on Friday for allegedly defaming the military, an act which violates the country’s telecommunications law.
Maldives will reintroduce the death penalty, despite international pressure from the UN and Amnesty International – the Maldivian government argues that this measure aims to tackle the rising number of murders and stop drug trafficking.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) prepared a report on Albania’s parliamentary elections, which took place on 25 June. This document provides an in-depth analysis of the electoral process, as well as the political landscape surrounding these elections.
What will it take to restore democracy in Venezuela? In a statement released on Tuesday, the International Crisis Group emphasises the importance of supporting human rights and democracy activists in the country.
In an article in the Washington Post, Nicholas Danforth discusses the current situation in Turkey, arguing that the ongoing crackdown on those opposing the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has left the country unprepared for the shocks it is likely to face in the near future.
On 12 October 2017, ALDA and its partners are organising the workshop “YouthMetre – an innovative tool for e-participation of youngsters across Europe” in Brussels. The event is organised in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities, and the European Local Democracy Week. More information about the event can be found here. Registration is possible through this link. Please note that the registration process is open until 30 September.
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Is freedom of expression at risk in Thailand? A Thai student activist was sentenced to two and a half years of prison for violating the country’s lèse-majesté law, after sharing on Facebook a BBC article which was deemed offensive to the king.
The price of providing “misleading information” in Hong Kong – a democracy activist who claimed that he was abducted and tortured by mainland Chinese agents, was arrested on suspicion of misleading the police.
On the National Women’s Day in Tunisia, which took place on Sunday, President Beji Caed Essibsi announced the formation of a committee to study the issue of individual rights, which aims to achieve gender equality in all fields, including inheritance.
A recently released Information Brief, prepared by International IDEA, argues for a new developmental approachto natural resource governance in Africa, focusing on an inclusive, participatory and owner-based socio-economic transformation of African countries.
What will it take to tackle the problem of the shrinking civic space? In its latest report, CIVICUS showcases that the space for civil society is under constant threat in a large number of member countries of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
In a thought-provoking article in openDemocracy, Ziyaad Bhorat discusses the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the judicial decision-making, suggesting that the idea of AI judges may raise important ethical issues regarding bias and autonomy.
Between 30 September and 1 October 2017, Civil Society Europe is organising the European Civic Academy in Brussels. The event will be held under the theme “NGOs as Drivers for Enhanced Civic and Democratic Spaces in Europe”. The agenda of this event can be found here. In order to register, please fill in the form available at this link. Please note that the registration process is open until 5 September 2017.
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In Kenya, protests erupted in several areas of the country following the electoral fraud claims made by opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who said that the electoral commission’s IT system has been hacked to manipulate the results of the presidential elections, which took place on Tuesday, in favour of incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta.
As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was sworn in for a second term on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times wrote that he will have to face mounting opposition from religious hard-liners, who control key centres of power in the country, in order to deliver political and social reforms.
An update on freedom of expression in Vietnam – the Vietnamese authorities arrested a member of an online democracy advocacy group on Friday, on alleged charges of working to overthrow the government.
Under what conditions can decentralisation be successful? In its latest Briefing Paper, Democracy Reporting International (DRI) highlights a series of key factors for designing effective decentralisation reforms.
Freedom House recently published a report, in which it analyses the current state of media freedom in Poland, suggesting that the country has emerged as a battleground for authoritarian-minded leaders, who aim to gain control over the political discourse and erode media pluralism.
In an opinion piece in The Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer argues that if Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is re-elected next month, the country is likely to follow the path of “development first, then democracy”.
On 11 October 2017, ALDA and the partners of the MEANING consortium are organising the workshop “Metropolitan governments shaping EU Urban policy” in Brussels. The event is organised in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities, and the European Local Democracy Week. More information about the event can be found here. Registration is possible through this link. Please note that the registration process is open until 30 September 2017.
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In a statement released on Wednesday, the EU expressed its concerns regarding the recent events in the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, and called on President Nicolás Maduro and his government to suspend the effective installation of the Constituent Assembly.
South Africa’s biggest civil society movements are mobilising for an anti-government march, which is scheduled to be held on 7 August, one day before the parliament will vote whether to remove President Jacob Zuma from office.
In Moldova, hundreds of citizens protested in the streets of Chisinau against the controversial changes to the electoral system, recently approved by the Moldovan parliament, which, according to critics, favour the country’s two main political parties.
How can Georgia remain a success story in an authoritarian neighbourhood? Thomas de Waal of Carnegie Europe looks at the current political landscape in Georgia, and suggests that certain trends, such as the growing xenophobic discourse, can have a negative impact on the country’s recent achievements.
A policy brief prepared by International IDEA focuses on the island nations in the Pacific, arguing that accountability to citizens through democratic political processes is essential to ensure the effective implementation of the SDGs.
In a report published by The Project on Middle Eastern Democracy (POMED), Mohamed El-Ansary analyses the role of the Public Prosecutor in the repression of dissent in Egypt since the establishment of military rule in July 2013.
On 17 August 2017, the Democracy Forum is organising the event “Withered democracy in Pakistan: the role of the Deep State” at the Senate Room in London. Further information about the event can be found here. In order to register, please fill in the form available at this link.
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In an article from The Washington Post, Klaudia Kocimska and Isaac Stanley-Becker, provide an overview of the political situation in Poland, where the Polish President, Andrzej Duda, wielded his veto power on Monday by rejecting two of the three judicial reform measures proposed by the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS).
The count in Papua New Guinea’s troubled general election has been delayed following accusations of “sorcery”, and recounts have been ordered in two constituencies in the country’s East Sepik province.
At the EU-Egypt Association Council, which took place in Brussels on Tuesday, the EU and Egypt discussed a broad range of issues and agreed on new partnership priorities for 2017-2020, despite further examples of continued state torture of citizens.
Will Venezuela slide into the first outright civil war in the American hemisphere this century? Francisco Toro provides his opinion on the street protests that have convulsed Venezuela, including the most surprising aspect of the movement, which is not the rampant violence, but its restraint.
In a new article in Carnegie Endowment, Arthur Larok assesses the new face of civic activism in Uganda, which could have a greater impact than any traditional civil society organisation (CSO) has recorded in the country in recent times.
In a Forum Q&A published by the National Endowment for Democracy, professor Philip Howard talks about computational propaganda, or the use of algorithms and social media to influence politics, and how it is an emerging challenge to democracy in the digital age.
On 7 & 8 September 2017, Bruegel is organising its flagship event “The Annual Meetings” in Brussels, which will offer a mixture of large public debates and small private sessions on various European and global topics. Additional information about the event can be found here. In order to register for the public sessions on 7 September, please fill in the form available at this link.
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Following the Foreign Affairs Council on Tuesday, the EU urged the Pakistani government to follow up on the recommendations from previous EU Election Observation Missions in order to improve its electoral process for the next legislative elections, which are scheduled to take place in 2018.
The EU is pushing Ukraine to increase its efforts in fighting corruption – during the recent EU-Ukraine Summit, EU leaders and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko agreed on a plan to establish a special anti-corruption chamber within the country’s Supreme Court.
Thousands of Poles rallied in the streets of Warsaw and other cities across the country against the government’s decision to initiate a controversial reform which could weaken the independence of the judiciary and undermine democracy.
To what extent will Colombia’s peace accord boost democratic change in the country? Andreas E. Feldmann explores provisions of the peace accord signed between the Colombian government and FARC, arguing that despite the fact that this document may have stimulated citizen participation, it still raises the question of whether a true democracy can be built in the near future.
In the second issue of this year’s International Reports, produced by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Christopher Walker of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) suggests that democratic states should not underestimate the challenges that authoritarian regimes, in particular those in Russia, China, and Iran, pose to the global political order.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) examines the worsening situation of press freedom in Turkey following the attempted coup of 2016, showcasing the growing number of detained journalists in the past year.
Between 14-15 September 2017, the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE) are organising the event “The Rule of Law: Where are we heading?” in Skopje. Additional information about the event can be found here. In order to register, please fill in the form available at this link.
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In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe’s third trip to Singapore this year for medical treatment has raised accusations that the Zimbabwean leader is ruling his country from a hospital bed.
As Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, completed his “march for justice” on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of Turks gathered in the streets of Istanbul to protest against the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Cambodian parliament passed a law which bars political parties from having ties with convicted citizens – which critics say that this move aims to prevent the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party from associating itself with its former leader, Sam Rainsy.
The latest report developed by the International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) provides an analysis of the demonstrations which took place between 17 February and 26 March 2017 in Belarus, in which it showcases the human rights violations committed by the Belarusian authorities during these events.
Under what conditions can Ukraine become a vibrant democracy? In an article in openDemocracy, Mikhail Minakov outlines the fact that, despite a series political and economic reforms carried out by the Ukrainian government in the aftermath of the Euromaidan Revolution, the country seems to be following regional authoritarian trends.
On 20 November 2017, Chatham House, Al Sharq Forum and the International Crisis Group are organising the third annual conference “Europe and its Neighbourhood: Conflict Prevention and Crisis Management in the 21st Century” in London. More information about the event can be found here. Registration is possible through this link.
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Is the progress made by Myanmar in press freedom at risk of being reversed? International actors, including the EU, urged the Burmese authorities to ensure the freedom of opinion and expression in the country, following the arrest of three reporters last week.
Will increases in wages prevent new protests in Venezuela? President Nicolás Maduro announced that the minimum wage will rise by 50% this month, in what is described as an attempt to overcome major protests, as well as to gain support for his plans to change the constitution.
In Ghana, Attorney General Gloria Akuffo called on all stakeholders to speed up the process of creating the Office of the Special Prosecutor, in order to strengthen anti-corruption efforts in the country.
NIMD released its Annual Report 2016, which showcases its work in the field of democracy support in 24 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, in particular in Kenya, Burundi, Myanmar and Colombia.
Is biometric technology a solution to prevent electoral fraud? A new publication developed by International IDEA is addressed to all stakeholders involved in debates on the application of biometrics in elections, both for voter registration before an election and for voter verification at polling stations on election day.
Should internet access be considered a human right? In a thought-provoking article, which was initially published in Foreign Affairs, Steven Feldstein of Carnegie argues that “offline rights”, such as the right to free speech and the right to peaceful assembly, should be applied online as well.
On 13 July 2017, European Centre for Electoral Support, the European Institute of Peace, European External Action Service, European Peacekeeping Liaison Office, and the European Parliament are organising the seminar “Preventing election related violence: What Role for Political Mediation and Dialogue” in Brussels. The full agenda of the event is available here. Registration is possible through this link.
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While addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Farid Zarif, head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), declared that the country’s democratic future is linked to the successful conduct of the upcoming presidential and legislative elections in October.
Under what conditions will Macedonia be capable of ensuring the independence of the judiciary and media? During a visit to Skopje on Monday, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, called on the Macedonian government to make reforms in key areas, in order to open accession talks by the end of this year.
Hong Kong activists protested ahead of the Chinese President’s visit – dozens of campaigners gathered in front of China’s representative office in Hong Kong to protest against the detention of human rights lawyers on the mainland, while another group sang for democracy in the city centre.
Is strengthening state capacity undermining democratic change in authoritarian regimes? A recent study prepared by V-Dem analyses 460 elections, which took place in 110 authoritarian regimes in the past four decades, with some thought-provoking results.
The strategy brief “Why Democracy Matters”, developed by Freedom House, explores the democratisation process in Kenya. This document argues that civil society should take a leading role in promoting democratic values in the African country, in order to ensure the safety of Kenyan citizens, as well as tackle corruption and poverty.
In an article in openDemocracy, Jason Strakes provides an overview of Georgia’s attempts to build a new civic identity, explaining to what extent the development of this project is influenced by the political interests of the Russian minority in the country.
Between 16-20 August 2017, the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy will organise the “International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: The Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions” in Berlin. Additional information about the conference is available here. Registration is possible through this link.
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To what extent will political reforms enable full national reconciliation in Iraq? In the conclusions adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, the EU underlines the importance of the rule of law for the country’s stability.
Surprisingly perhaps, Morocco again ranks first in this year’s Arab Democracy Index, followed by Tunisia and Jordan – the report developed by the Arab Reform Initiative emphasises the shortcomings of the democratisation process in the region.
In Turkey, prime minister Binali Yildirim urged Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party, to put an end to his protest march from Ankara to Istanbul, which began following the arrest of one of the party’s lawmakers.
Has Venezuela ceased to be a democracy? In its latest briefing paper, the International Crisis Group provides an in-depth analysis of the current situation in the South American country, in an attempt to identify the root causes of the ongoing crisis.
Is Bolivia moving towards authoritarianism? Oliver della Costa Stuenkel analyses the country’s democratic development under the leadership of President Evo Morales, and its impact on the region.
A new paper released by the Atlantic Council explores the most pressing issues facing Islam today, focusing on its relationship with democracy, human rights, gender and minority rights, as well as notions of legitimate governance.
On 3 July 2017, the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and United Nations Association Flanders Belgium (VVN) are organising the lunch lecture “Challenges and Opportunities for the UN and the New Secretary-General” at the UN House in Brussles. More information about the event is available here. Registration is possible through this link.
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In Russia, opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been jailed for calling one of the biggest anti-government protests since 2012, as thousands demonstrated in the streets of Moscow and other cities across the country.
To what extent will the release of Pakistani prisoners influence India-Pakistan relations? Following a meeting between the prime ministers of both countries, which took place last week in Astana, the Indian government agreed to release 11 Pakistani prisoners as a gesture of goodwill.
Is freedom of expression under attack in Hungary? The Hungarian parliament approved a series of strict regulations on foreign-funded NGOs, a move which critics described as an attempt to silence independent voices in society.
A report developed by CIVICUS analyses the major events of 2017 related to the activity of CSOs around the world. The report focuses on the phenomenon of shrinking civic space and outlines the benefits of improved cooperation between civil society and the private sector.
In an article originally published in Foreign Affairs, Steven Feldstein, from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argues that the efforts of the DR Congo’s government to conduct surveillance of the Internet showcases a growing trend among states to increase control over the online sphere.
What does it take to organise a successful constitutional referendum in Sri Lanka? A briefing paper prepared by Democracy Reporting International (DRI) suggests that the island nation needs a secured regulatory framework for the referendum, which would address issues relating to campaign finances and media conduct.
On 5 July 2017, Chatham House is hosting the research event “Ukraine’s Transformation: Assessments and Solutions” in London. Two members of the Ukrainian government, namely Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration) and Oleksandr Danyliuk (Minister of Finance), are among the speakers invited to this event. More information is available here. Registration is possible through this link.
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What will it take to ensure freedom of expression in Myanmar? Two journalists were arrested for allegedly defaming the military by publishing a satirical story, an act which is considered to be an offence under the country’s telecommunications law.
An anti-corruption protest took place in Slovakia on Monday: thousands of Slovak citizens rallied in the streets of Bratislava, demanding the resignation of the interior minister Robert Kalinak over his alleged ties with a controversial real estate developer, who is under investigation for tax fraud.
In an interview for TIME magazine, Chilean President Michele Bachelet outlined that modernising state institutions, as well as investing in social policies, and opening the spaces for civil society are some of the facts that have contributed to the country’s democratic development.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) developed the report “Reflect, Reform, Reengage: A Blueprint for 21st Century Parties”, which showcases the fact that political parties should prioritise gender equality, transparency and accountability, within their internal organisation.
Should other South American states be more involved in the Venezuelan crisis? In an article in HuffPost, human rights activist Lilia Tintori argues that the fall of democracy in Venezuela could have a negative impact on the region.
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) released an interim report on the upcoming parliamentary elections in Albania, scheduled for 25 June 2017. The report highlights a lively media environment, which is perceived as politically aligned.
On 21 June 2017, the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) and the World Bank are organising the launch of the “World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law” (WDR) in Brussels. Registration is possible through this link.
On 15 June 2017, the University of Oxford is hosting Professor Philip Howard’s Inaugural Lecture “Is Social Media Killing Democracy? Computational Propaganda, Algorithms, Automation and Public Life”. Further information about the event can be found here. In order to register, please send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The EU expresses its concerns over the current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: In a declaration adopted by the Council on Monday, the EU calls on the DRC authorities to manage the ongoing crisis in the Kasai Province in compliance with the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In Brazil, a corruption scandal surrounding President Michel Termer sparks protests, as thousands of Brazilians took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, demanding early elections to elect a new head of state.
Is Moldova heading towards a new political crisis? The junior Liberal Party in the pro-European government decided to withdraw from the ruling coalition following the recent arrests of two high-ranking party members.
During the G7 Summit, which took place last week, leaders adopted a roadmap on delivering gender equity through enabling women’s labour force participation, entrepreneurship, and economic empowerment.
To what extent can the UN and international civil society organisations support the right to protest? A report prepared by CIVICUS examines the sustainability of contemporary protest movements, focusing on three case studies: Bahrain, Chile, and Uganda.
A briefing paper developed by the International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and the Legal Prosperity Foundation (LPF) showcases the current situation of civil society and freedom of speech in Kyrgyzstan. The paper contains a number of recommendations, which aim to tackle the country’s most pressing issues related to democracy and human rights.
Can fake news pose a threat to Canada’s democracy? An article in The Globe and Mail showcases Canadians’ fearsthat the possible breakdown of democratic discourse in several liberal democracies could have a negative impact on their own country.
Between 24-27 August 2017, the University Women of Europe (UWE) is organising its Annual General Meeting under the theme “Changing Cultures”. The event will take place in Graz, Austria. Further information about the event can be found here. Registration is possible through this link.
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To what extent will the re-election of Hassan Rouhani lead to reforms in Iran? President Hassan Rouhani won the presidential elections by a landslide, receiving 57% out of more than 40 million votes cast, promising to expand individual and political freedoms.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka acknowledges Rwanda’s achievements towards gender equality, outlining the confidence placed in women regarding their contribution towards the country’s development.
Following the EU-Armenia Cooperation Council on Tuesday, the EU called on the Armenian government to ensure an impartial, credible and effective investigation of all alleged human rights violations, as well as to tackle challenges in the judicial system.
The new European consensus on development outlines the EU’s commitment to invest in sustainable development, as well as to promote gender equality, good governance, democracy, rule of law and human rights.
How is the “closing space phenomenon” affecting the activity of civil society organisations? A recent publication by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace explores the constant efforts of the governments in Russia, Egypt and Ethiopia to narrow civil society activism in their countries.
In an article on openDemocracy, Mihai Popșoi provides an overview of the current political climate in Moldova, focusing on the recent proposed changes to electoral legislation and its potential impact on the country’s next parliamentary elections.
Through the Working Paper “Constraining Governments: New Indices of Vertical, Horizontal and Diagonal Accountability”, V-Dem aims to develop new methods to conceptualize and measure the accountability of governments to their citizens, other state institutions, the media and civil society.
On 22 June 2017, the Political Studies Association and the University of Westminster are organising the “Democracy in a post-truth age” workshop in London. Additional information about the workshop can be found here. Registration is possible through this link.
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In the conclusions adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, EU foreign ministers call on the Venezuelan government to hold elections and to engage in dialogue with the opposition in order to find a solution to the ongoing crisis.
Azerbaijan blocks the websites of several opposition newspapers: An Azerbaijani court ruled in favor of the request submitted by the Ministry of Transport, Communications, and High Technology to block access to websites that “pose a threat” to the country’s national security.
Are the recent Nepalese local elections a sign that the country is moving towards full democracy? Nepal held its first local elections in 20 years, a period in which local positions have been occupied by government-appointed bureaucrats.
Is the International Criminal Court (ICC) the only international instrument that provides justice to victims of war? In an opinion piece released by the South African Institute for International Affairs, Mélanie Rondreux highlights the key role of the ICC in assisting the civilians exposed to the atrocities of war.
The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum recently released the “2016 Report on the State of Civil Society in the EU and Russia”, which focuses on the following cases studies: Germany, Spain, Poland, Hungary and Russia.
The latest Briefing Paper developed by Democracy Reporting International (DRI) explores the current state of decentralisation reform in Lebanon. The findings of this research are based on the outcomes of an expert meeting between politicians, lawyers, academics and representatives of Lebanon’s civil society, held by DRI in December 2016 in Beirut.
Between 13-17 September 2017, Greece will host the The New York Times Athens Democracy Forum, which aims to bring together leading policy makers, business leaders, scholars and other experts. The event will include a number of prominent speakers, such as: Kofi Annan (former Secretary General of the United Nations), Irina Bokova (Director General of UNESCO) and Prokopiοs Pavlopoulos (President of Greece). The full agenda is available here. Registration is possible through this link.
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What impact will the new South Korean president have on his country’s relations with North Korea? Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in has won the presidential elections that took place on Tuesday, promising a more conciliatory approach towards Pyongyang.
During his visit to Ethiopia, the UN Humans Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on the Ethiopian government to free political prisoners and open up civic space, as well as to allow the UN to assess the situation in the regions where anti-government protests took place.
Uganda ranks 112 in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index: The African country has dropped 10 places compared with last year’s report, one of the main causes being related to the media freedom violations that occurred during the 2016 presidential elections.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Matthew Olsen and Edward Fishman showcase that Russia’s cyberwar with the west will continue, despite Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the recent French presidential elections. The authors argue that western democracies should adopt a strategy that focuses on deterrence and resilience, in order to counter Russian propaganda.
In the report “Together for Human Rights: 2016 – A Year in Review”, the International Partnership for Human Rights provides an overview of its activities last year that included fact-finding missions, engaging in international advocacy, publishing reports and briefing papers.
Are Western and non-Western powers capable of reforming the liberal international order? A new policy paper prepared by the German Marshall Fund of the United States explores the concept of the liberal international order, focusing on three elements: security, economics and human rights.
On 19-20 May 2017, the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and Open Parliament Initiative in Ukraine will organise the “Global Legislative Openness Conference”. The event will take place in Kyiv, Ukraine at the Verkhovna Rada. The full agenda of the conference is available here. Registration is possible through this link.
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The Polish President proposed a constitutional referendum to be held in 2018, a plan denounced by the opposition as an attempt of the ruling party to move towards authoritarianism.
Is Barbados becoming an example for other CARICOM countries in promoting gender equality? The Caribbean island nation developed a draft gender equality protocol for magistrates and judges that aims to ensure equal access to justice for both men and women.
Mauritanians demand an end to slavery: hundreds rallied in the streets of Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, calling on the government to prosecute slave owners and ensure the proper integration of former slaves into society.
A research paper released by CIVICUS explores the current situation of civil society in 22 countries. The study outlines that in most states the ability of CSOs to carry out their activities is limited by government intervention and restrictions.
International IDEA has released a Constitution Brief that is addressed to constitution-makers and other democratic actors and stakeholders in Myanmar. The document provides a basic guide on the functioning of constitutional courts focusing on their role, powers and the issues that they raise in constitution-building processes.
To what extent will the creation of an anti-corruption unit improve the work of the South African Police Service (SAPS)? The latest policy brief developed by the Institute for Security Studies showcases the main benefits of establishing an anti-corruption unit within SAPS.
On 26-28 June 2017, the Institute for Political Studies of the Catholic University of Portugal will host the Estoril Political Forum 2017, under the theme “Defending the Western Tradition of Liberty Under Law”. The event will take place in Estoril, Portugal. The full agenda of the conference is available here. Registration can be done through this link.
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The upcoming parliamentary elections in Albania will be held without opposition parties: The governing Socialist Party and its coalition partners are the only parties to compete in the upcoming elections while opposition parties decided not the enter the race as a means of protest.
Is the government of Hong Kong eliminating its opposition? Politically motivated persecutions continue in Hong Kong with the arrest of nine democracy activists in connection with anti-government protest last year.
An update on “press freedom” in Ecuador: seven media companies were fined by the government for not covering a story on the supposed offshore dealings of Guillermo Lasso, an opposition politician and candidate in the recent presidential elections.
To what extent will social activism shape the future of Egypt? Amr Hamzawy explores the impact of various activist groups, focusing on their success since 2013 in holding the Egyptian government accountable for human rights abuses.
In an article originally published in Foreign Affairs, Thomas Carothers and Richard Youngs from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace analyse current developments that threaten the future of global democracy but advise against conceiving of an antidemocratic counterrevolution.
An opinion piece published by the Centre for European Policy Studies questions the viability of continuing the accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey. Following the recent constitutional referendum in Turkey, the authors argue that the EU should reset its relationship with Turkey and increase pressure to support democracy and tackle human rights abuses.
In an article on openDemocracy, Betty Sue Flowers promulgates that the idea of democracy is in crisis and proposes to find a new narrative for Western democracies that would move from the values of economic growth to those of global well-being.
Between 5-9 July 2017, the ae-Centre will organise its annual International Academy and Forum on Peace Mediation and Dialogue in North Africa under the theme “Tunisia: building a lasting peace”. The event will take place in Caux, Switzerland. The full agenda of the seminar is available here. Registration is possible through this link.
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Was Turkey’s constitutional referendum truly free and fair? Turkish citizens voted to increase the powers of the presidency, but opposition parties and international observers sighted irregularities during Sunday’s referendum.
In Brazil, President Michel Temer agreed to make new concessions in order to assure the safe passage of a controversial pension reform bill, as police unions attempt to invade the building of the National Congress during the latest protest of a labour group.
The “mother of all protests” has taken place in Venezuela: Thousands of Venezuelans rallied in the streets of Caracas against the regime of President Nicolás Maduro, demanding that the government hold new elections, free political prisoners and remove supreme court judges who recently tried to shut down the country’s parliament.
What does it take to be an ambitious woman in politics? NIMD published the book “Dancing Backwards in High Heels: Women, Leadership and Power”, authored by Virginia García Beaudoux, that outlines the difficulties encountered by women active in politics in several countries.
How is the internet shaping modern democratic practices? Focusing on the 2016 US presidential elections and the rise of several populist parties in Europe, Nathaniel Persily explores the potential of digital tools, in particular social media, to enable campaigners to push voter outreach beyond traditional limits.
In an article on Carnegie Europe, Judy Dempsey provides an overview of the protest movements in Belarus and Russia and examines the EU’s role in supporting citizens in these countries.
International IDEA recently released the publication “Open Data in Electoral Administrations”. The study argues that open data can enable more inclusive, transparent and trusted elections.
Between 19-21 June 2017, Deutsche Welle will host the “Global Media Forum 2017” under the theme “Identity and Diversity”. The event will take place in Bonn, Germany. The full agenda of the conference is available here. Registration can be done through this link.
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South African President Jacob Zuma received his birthday gift from the opposition: Thousands gathered in the streets of Pretoria, demanding the resignation of the President, following his decision to dismiss Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
To what extent can electoral reforms boost democracy in India? President Pranab Mukherjee has called for strong reforms of the electoral system, coupled with an increased number of seats in the parliament, in order to strengthen the country’s democratic development.
In the Gambia, the United Democratic Party (UDP) has won the recent parliamentary elections, while the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), the party of former President Yahya Jammeh, lost more than 30 seats in the National Assembly.
Is Serbia moving towards autocracy? An article in The New York Times analyses the latest developments in the aftermath of the recent presidential elections.
What is the role of digital democracy in today’s world? NIMD’s Innovation Advisor, Will Derks, reviews a report that focuses on pioneering innovations in digital democracy that take place on a global scale.
A report published by the Center for Public Policy and Democracy Studies (PODEM) explores the Kurds’ views on the political and social developments in Turkey over the past year. The study aims to shed light on Kurdish expectations and demands for the country’s future.
How is the Ghani-Abdullah dispute affecting Afghanistan’s reform process? The International Crisis Group offers an in-depth analysis of the tense relationship between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah.
On 10 May 2017, the European Endowment for Democracy along with International Media Support, the Danish Foreign Policy Society and the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracies will organise the event “Security or Democracy – Do we need to make a choice?”. The event will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark. The full agenda of the conference is available here. In order to register, please send an email to email@example.com.
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Is Serzh Sarksyan seeking to become Armenian prime minister in 2018? President Sarksyan’s ruling Republican Party won parliamentary elections on Sunday, the first ever to be held under a new constitution, which will also effectively reduce the powers of the presidency when his term expires next year.
Opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo protested in cities across the country, calling on President Joseph Kabila to hold elections and adopt the power sharing deal signed on 31 December 2016.
In Venezuela, thousands of demonstrators clashed with government security forces, as they tried to rally against the decision of the Supreme Court to seize power from the National Assembly.
The research paper “Social Media: Advancing Women in Politics?”, published by Women in Parliaments, highlights the role of social media as a political equaliser in facilitating the work of female lawmakers.
In an article in Washington Post, Rob Jenkins outlines India’s political and institutional obstacles that prevents it from descending to autocratic rule, despite the existing challenges to the country’s democratic development.
A new report developed by CIVICUS Monitor provides an in depth analysis of the current situation of civic activism in the world. The study shows that fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and assembly are under threat in 106 countries.
On 7-8 June 2017, the European Commission will organise the “European Development Days”. The event will take place in Brussels under the theme “Investing in Development”. More information about EDD 2017 is available here. Registration can be done through this link.
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In Liberia, representatives of 22 political parties and the Liberia National Police (LNP) agreed to work together to ensure the peaceful conduct of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
The biggest protest movement in Russia since 2012 brought tens of thousands of Russians into the streets in more than 80 cities across the country to denounce government corruption.
In Chile, hundreds of thousands of citizens marched in order to put pressure on President Michelle Bachelet to change Chile’s pension system, currently being managed by private funds.
What is the current state of direct democracy in the world? The latest policy brief published by V-Dem shows that despite the increased potential of direct democracy, this increase is not evenly distributed worldwide.
International IDEA’s new discussion paper outlines the advantages of involving members of all age groups in political process as a way to improve democratic development.
In a thought-provoking article in Open Democracy, WFD’S Anthony Smith highlights a number of key traits that democracies have in common with ecosystems.
Between 21-24 June 2017, the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR) and the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) will organise the conference “Civil Society and Philanthropy in Africa: Contexts, Contradictions, and Possibilities”. The event will be held in Accra, Ghana. More information about the conference can be found here. Registration can be done by completing the form available here.
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Will tax hikes solve Lebanon’s economic problems? Thousands of Lebanese protested in the streets of Beirut last Sunday against a government proposal to raise taxes that is meant to avoid a $4bn budget deficit.
Democracy is under constant threat in Cambodia: ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) recently released a report that denounces the “climate of fear” generated by Prime Minister Hun Shen among opposition parties.
In Zimbabwe, opposition parties expressed their lack of confidence in the neutrality of the local election agency, demanding that the next presidential elections are conducted by a committee set up by the United Nations and the African Union.
The National Democratic Institute released a new publication on combating violence against women in politics. It is addressed to democracy practitioners and aims to provide guidance on developing programmes to tackle this problem.
To what extent can economic growth undermine democracy? V-Dem’s latest publication explores contrasting views on the economy-democracy nexus.
ECDPM’s new discussion paper examines the potential of PCSD (or “policy coherence for sustainable development”) as an approach to tackle major policy challenges posed by the 2030 Agenda.
A new report published by Carnegie Europe showcases the rise of civic activism across eight countries. On that basis, the document analyses possible implications for the future of civil society support.
Between 27-30 July 2017, the European Solidarity Centre and DRA-German-Russian Exchange are organising the annual Forum for Young Professionals “Europe Lab”, which will take place Gdansk, Poland. More information about the event can be found here. Applications can be submitted by completing the form available here. The deadline for applications is 1 May 2017.
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The Macedonian political crisis continues to stoke ethnic tensions: thousands of Macedonians protested against the decision of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia to form a coalition government with three ethnic Albanian parties.
How can the democratic development in Pakistan benefit from the empowerment of women? Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, highlighted the important role of women in strengthening democracy.
With one month to go until the Turkish constitutional referendum, the Venice Commission released a report in which it criticises the government’s proposals, arguing that they could weaken the country’s democratic development.
How can elections prolong dictatorships? An article on Washington Post explores the costs and benefits for autocratic regimes in holding elections.
In CIVICUS Monitor, the International Partnership for Human Rights and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA) analysed the worsening situation of civil society in Uzbekistan, despite the recent release of some government critics.
The ODIHR publication “ODIHR, Gender Equality and Women’s Rights”reflects the low level of women’s political participation in decision-making positions and during elections across the OSCE region.
The Hertie School of Governance, the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University and the International Policy and Leadership Institute are organising the “European public policy conference 2017: Democracy in the digital age”, which will take place on 21-23 April 2017 in Prague, Czech Republic. Further information about the event can be found here. Registration can be done by completing the form available here.
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Is Belarus following the footsteps of Ukraine? The recent protests in Belarus over the so-called “parasite tax” is just one of several policies that the regime led by President Alexander Lukashenko uses to keep its citizens in line.
Bread remains political in Egypt: Protests have taken place in several cities against the government’s decision to cut bread subsidies that is supposed to facilitate a $12bn loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Poland’s contribution to this years’ International Women’s Day: Inspired by the “Black Monday” strike that took place last year in more than 150 Polish cities and towns, thousands of women protested around the globe over the country’s current political situation of women’s rights.
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy has released a new research paper. Focusing on civil society, Susan Dodsworth and Nic Cheeseman explore the challenges that democracy supporters face in putting their strategies into practice.
Does the low turnout reflect voter apathy and mistrust of the political process? Abdurashid Solijonov provides an overview of the global negative trend in voter turnout over the past two decades.
How is corruption perceived in the Asia Pacific region? This question is thoroughly analysed by Coralie Prings in her latest research paper, which is based on more than 21 000 interviews that were conducted throughout the region.
On 20 March 2017, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung is organising the conference “Moving forward with Europe! The liberal democracy crisis and the future of the EU”, which will take place in Berlin. More information can be found here. Registration can be done through this link.
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In South Korea, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans protested in Seoul over the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on the fourth anniversary of her swearing into office.
The visit of the Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, to Brussels marked the conclusion of a new agreement between the EU and Armenia, which seeks to deepen political and economic cooperation between the two.
Tensions in Cameroon are rising, as opposition parties expressed their disapproval over the federalisation of the country during the 6th Ordinary Congress of the National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP).
In their latest paper, CEPS researchers Steven Blockmans and Sinem Yilmaz explore the EU’s actions towards the failed coup in Turkey and the profound democratic crisis that has seized the country.
Did the Romanian protests light a beacon of hope for democratic resilience? In the framework of the Romanian people’s civic mobilisation against the government’s attempt to tackle anti-corruption achievements, the European Policy Centre provides an overview of the protests and their impact on the state of European democracy.
To what extent does democracy contribute to good governance, development and growth? The Institute for Security Studies offers an in-depth analysis of democratic development in Africa from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Between 28 March-3 April 2017, the 24th International Democratic Education Conference will take place in Hadera, Israel. Further information about the event can be found here.
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For the first time after the 2010 mass arrests, bloody crackdown, and isolation of regime, several Belarusians are taking to the streets on account of the introduction of a new law taxing the unemployed.
Nepal will soon be facing a key moment in its fraught democratic development: deep political divides will be tested when the secular republic holds its first local elections in May 2017.
Officials in the Trump administration and EU leaders spent the last week eyeing each other up in Brussels, Bonn, and at the Security Conference in Munich: despite the background politesse, it was what Vice-President Pence did not mention that made EU representatives anxious.
In the framework of the project “Preventing electoral Conflict in the SADC region” (PEV-SADC), EPD member ECES draws several recommendations for the international community on how to prevent, mitigate, and manage electoral conflict and violence.
How and in what order do different accountability mechanisms evolve? Using data from 173 countries from 1900 to the present, V-Dem argues that most aspects of de facto vertical accountability precede other forms of accountability.
IFES has recently developed the Violence Against Women in Elections (VAWIE) Framework to specifically identify and address the unique issues related to gender-based election violence.
Between 1-3 March 2017 the “Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development” will take place in Bonn, developing strategies to achieve the SDGs.
The official page of the festival, alongside registration information, is available here.
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Is this the end of an era? In advance of crucial local elections in June, Sam Rainsy, the embattled leader of Cambodia’s main opposition party, resigned on Saturday in the face of increasing government pressure.
Elections in Hong Kong are fast approaching and not without oddity: instead of reaching out to the public, contenders prefer to consult with seasoned politicians, business men and trade leaders. This goes to show just how little the 2014 Umbrella Movement’s pro-democracy campaign has changed the political realities of Hong Kong.
Six years after Shia-led protests were crushed by authorities, Bahrain continues to be shaken by anti-government uprisings, demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister to replace the current government dominated by the ruling Al-Khalifa family.
Both the Arab Spring and Russia’s assertiveness in Eastern Europe prompted reviews of the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2011 and 2015 respectively. A literature review, recently published by CEPS, identifies the factors explaining the lack of coherence and effectiveness of the ENP.
How does multiparty democracy fare among African citizens? Against the background of the one-party dominated political systems in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, a paper by Afrobarometer analyses popular attitudes towards the political opposition in Southern Africa.
In 2016 not only autocracies and dictatorships have seen declines in freedom, but also several established democracies: why was this the case? Freedom House evaluates the state of freedom, democracy, and human rights in 195 countries and 14 territories and delineates some common trends.
On 16 and 17 March 2017 the Swiss Centre for Democracy in Aarau (ZDA) will organise the 9th Aarau Democracy Days; this year’s topic, “The role of the media in direct democracy”, will look at how the media can influence citizens’ opinions and thereby different forms of direct democracy.
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In the wake of the largest anti-government protest that has shaken Romania since the fall of communism in 1989, opposition parties and activists all over the Balkans are echoing the call for rallies against corruption, organised crime, and the poor state of the economy.
Alexei Navalny − Russia’s main opposition leader known for his anti-corruption campaign − has been found guilty of embezzlement and handed a five-year suspended sentence, in a trial widely seen as a means of silencing him ahead of the 2018 elections.
After 38 years as head of state, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has confirmed he will not run in the coming Angolan presidential elections: yet, he will retain control of the ruling party, which is still expected to win.
In the context of the current economic, political, and social crossroads in Latin America, the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI) questions the type of change that is being brought about in the continent, and draws policy recommendations for the EU.
Is a socio-political change possible in Armenia? After the 2016 conflict with Azerbaijan and renewed discourse on national unity, Anna Zhamakochyan worries about civic activists’ attachment to the status quo of pro-regime politics.
By focusing on the management of the 2016 post-election impasse in Gambia, the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) examines ECOWAS’ interventions around the electoral processes of its member states, and draws up some lessons that could be relevant for other economic communities, the African Union, and the UN.
Lastly, democracy practitioners should check out the World Bank’s 2017 Development Report. It argues that governance can mitigate power asymmetries and bring about more effective policy interventions, in order achieve sustainable improvements in security, growth, and equity.
Between 27-28 February, the Jacques Delors Institute will launch the seventh European think tanks forum on the topic “The EU’s neighbourhood: how to stabilise the ring of fire?” in Valletta, gathering national and European stakeholders and experts to arrive at policy recommendations for the EU’s future approach.
Further details on the event, as well as its full programme, can be found here.
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In Sri Lanka the creation of the new constitution provides an opportunity to resolve the nationality conflict, repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and abolish torture and detention facilities on the island.
Is there any solution to the impasse over Western Sahara? The readmission of Morocco to the African Union after a 33-year absence indirectly reopens the international debate on this disputed area, calling for democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and a UN resolution.
After only a few days of Trump’s presidency, the US democracy is already put to the test: for its long-term survival it will be necessary that public indifference does not prevail over continuous public scrutiny and public pressure.
In the context of the on-going review of the EDF and of ACP-EU development cooperation, EPD released an input paper on improving domestic accountability, ownership, and aid effectiveness in ACP countries.
Ahead of the 2018 annual enlargement report, the EPRS looks at the 2016 EU enlargement package, showing how regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are indispensable means of re-energising common reform priorities in the Western Balkans.
Is a definitive peace still possible in Colombia? After the rejection of October 2016’s referendum between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, International Crisis Group looks at the political battle ahead, providing some recommendations for the international community.
How can the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development deliver on its transformative promises? The UNRISD 2016 Flagship Report provides an insight on the policies and practices that will lead to social, economic, and ecological justice.
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As Egypt celebrates the 6th anniversary of the Arab Spring uprisings that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, the revolution is still alive: despite President Sisi positive self-assessment, the crack down on civic freedoms continues to foster claims for democratic reform.
Is there hope for a change in North Korea? According to the country’s former deputy ambassador to London, the North Korean elite is outwardly expressing its discontent towards Kim Jong-Un and his government.
Ahead of the parliamentary elections set for June 18th 2017, the Albanian Bee anti-establishment political movement was recently launched, calling for institutional changes prior to joining the EU.
As the focus in EU’s relations with its neighbours should be on building up their resilience, Sven Biscop questions the credibility of the EU Global Strategy, arguing that sovereignty and equality would be a better leitmotiv than the sole national security.
Is Turkey heading to a president’s system? Ahead of the nationwide referendum in Spring 2017, the EPC looks at the controversial 18-article constitutional amendment package, calling for the EU to adopt a more vocal and constructive dialogue with Ankara.
Despite the numerous news-breaking humanitarian crises of 2016, CARE International looks at the countries where national disasters and conflicts have been largely under-reported, providing several suggestions for a way forward.
Considering the long-term disputed territory Nagorny Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Thomas de Waal argues that Donald Trump’s presidency and the EU’s on-going internal crises might negatively impact the much-needed pre-emptive diplomacy in South Caucasus.
On February 1st the National Endowment for Democracy will launch the event “Stability and progress in the Western Balkans: threats, predictions, solutions”, exploring new threats to stability and progress in the Western Balkans, assessing upcoming challenges and opportunities, and proposing ways forward.
Further information can be found here. The event will be livestreamed on the same page.
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As further evidence of Erdoğan’s growing authoritarianism, the Turkish Parliament passed a controversial constitutional reform enhancing the powers of the presidency at the first reading.
For the first time after the Saudi-backed security forces crushed the Arab Spring-inspired uprising in 2011, protests broke out in Bahrain on Sunday, after the execution of three men convicted of a deadly bomb attack on police.
Is Somalia’s democratic process moving forward or backward? The country is still striving to find long-term solutions to its recent civil war and to the jihadist insurgency.
The new Journal of Democracy is out, with articles on the social shifts causing “Brexit” and the rise of the populist UKIP party, and on the competitive authoritarian regime defeating the coup attempt in Turkey in July.
25 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Thomas de Waal considers the EU’s non-recognition and engagement policy in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria, providing some insights for the years ahead.
When and how is democracy aid effective? A recent V-Dem study finds that aid is more likely to be successful when it does not pose a threat to regime survival and when it matches the particular democratic deficits in a country.
In the framework of the escalation of tension between Russia and the West, EPD member EESC questions the ideology behind Russian Foreign Policy, and the implications it has on the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe.
Between 2-4 February 2017 the think tank Denknetz Schweiz will organise the congress “Reclaim Democracy” at the University of Basel, gathering 23 institutes, activist groups, NGOs, labour unions, and journals to discuss how democracy and human rights can be strengthened against economic interests and racism.
Further details on the conference can be found here.
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Is the hashtag revolution in Sudan enough to foster political change? Since September 2013, the country is facing its biggest show of public dissent, occurring for the first time through social media.
Although the EU declared an unchanged commitment to Ukraine, the still unsolved visa-free travel issue and the 2016 rejection of a landmark agreement establishing closer economic ties with the block have fuelled Ukrainian disenchantment with the EU.
Elections in Thailand have been postponed once again: although they should have taken place soon after the constitutional referendum of August 2016, it is rather unlikely that they will be held before Spring 2018.
Ahead of the revision of the European Consensus on Development, the mid-term review processes for the EU’s MFF, and the Fifth EU-Africa Summit, ECDPM looks at the current challenges affecting EU-Africa cooperation.
Will Trump’s presidency mean a break point for US democracy promotion? Thomas Carothers writes about the institutional and contextual constraints facing the administration of President elect Donald Trump.
As democratic values are facing major challenges worldwide, William A. Galston argues that greater attention should be addressed to the threat of illiberal democracy.
Is another Arab Spring imminent? The 2016 Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) shows that unemployment, political exclusion, and security challenges continue to affect a more politically aware Arab youth.
On January 19th the National Endowment for Democracy will host the conference “Latin America & the Liberal World Order”, that will consider the Argentinian, Brazilian, and Peruvian foreign policies with respect to human rights norms and democracy standards, the quality of recent electoral observation missions, and the limits to civil society and NGOs.
Further information can be found here. The event will be livestreamed on the same page.
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In the new year of 2017, five social, political, and economic developments in Latin America that might stay under the radar are well worth considering. These include the upcoming presidential elections in Honduras, the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, or migration flows across Mexico’s southern border.
What lies at the core of the Rohingya persecution in Myanmar? Saskia Sassen argues that military and economic interests – and specifically the phenomenon of corporate land grabbing – are frequently overlooked.
Infamous for its violent clashes between rival neighbourhoods and the outbreak of terrorist attacks since the Syrian civil war, the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli is now seeing several promising civil and cultural initiativesthat address young people and aim to prevent radical thought.
Following the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the German Development Institute (DIE) delineates the concept of SDG-sensitive development cooperation and related implications for donors.
In view of the persisting use of targeted torture by the Egyptian state, Maged Mandour’s examination of the logic of state violence in the country paints a bleak picture: as long as the dominant political order does not see a fundamental change, state violence will remain an accessible mean for the regime to exercise control over the opposition.
On 12 January 2017, the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the International Development Law Organization will organise the event “The Second Generation of Rule of Law Reform” in The Hague. Participants will discuss an alternative approach of understanding rule of law in the development field, giving more attention to domestic power structures, context, culture and other factors.
Further information on this event can be found here. Registration is possible on the same page.
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A difficult year for democratic stability is coming to an end. Southeast Asia too was not spared, with some worrying developments in Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and the Philippines. Even Indonesia, generally perceived as a democratic success story, is no exception to the democratic decline in Southeast Asia.
Can an international donors’ package of $2.2 billion make a difference in the Central African Republic? Considering the country’s weak institutional framework, on-going violence and humanitarian crises, some would give a rather sceptical answer.
As President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his second five-year term, protests have risen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: 20 people have been killed during demonstrations in Kinshasa and human rights defenders denounce arbitrary arrests.
Is the democratic progress achieved in Myanmar giving way to a “dictatorship of the majority”? In the context of increasing criticism directed towards Aung San Suu Kyi, Sergio Rodriguez Prieto examines the country’s institutional paralysis and long-standing ethnic fragmentation.
Following a recent Doing Development Differently (DDD) workshop, a report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Building State Capability Program at Harvard University draws key lessons from 43 case studies and encourages development practitioners to consider the DDD approach.
A recent comparative analysis of shrinking spaces for civil society actors in the Western Balkans, published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, argues that only profound civil participation and engagement can foster solid democratisation in the region.
Asma Jilani Jahangir, a Pakistani human rights lawyer and activist, who co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, will give the 2017 Amartya Sen Lecture at the London School of Economics on 17 January 2017. Her lecture is entitled “Religious Intolerance and its Impact on Democracy” and will begin at 18:30. Further information can be found here in due time.
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The referendum on the constitution in Kyrgyzstan has several democracy observers worried but passed with a high number of yes votes
The Gambia is showing that democracy supporters shouldn’t count their chickens before they’ve hatched as President Jammeh clings to power.
As Venezuela is on the verge of a financial crisis, talks between the government and the opposition have fallen through.
Who will support democracy now? In openDemocracy, EPD argues that the EU and its member states must step up their democracy support in this time of unpredictable change.
In Brookings, Vanessa Williamson and Norman Eisen analyse the actual impact of open government.
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Opinion polls suggest that little will change in the Macedonian political landscape on December 11th, as a lack of external pressure to promote a more pluralistic political system and a prevalent ethnic-based political debatemeans that the two political parties responsible for the recent scandal will most likely stay in power.
A testing year for democracy in Africa is closer to its end, with some positive news: The Gambia’s election turned into a shock defeat for the authoritarian President Yahya Jammeh, while Dos Santos confirmed that he will not be seeking re-election in Angola’s 2017 elections.
As President Park Geun-hye approval rating diminishes and hundreds of thousands of citizens continue to protest, the South Korean crisis is coming to a head: the country could experience a turning point similar to 1987.
Has EU enlargement policy failed? As breaches of democratic standards seem to increase in candidate countries, Erwan Fouéré urges the European Commission to adopt a more forceful and determined approach, ensuring the respect of human rights, the Rule of Law, and the inclusion of CSOs.
The dictatorships of central Asia are now at a crossroads: in Uzbekistan, after the confirmation of Shavkat Mirziyoyev as president, research by ICG questions the new administration’s prerogatives and relationship with Russian, Chinese, and European neighbours.
To what extent is Ghana a consolidated democracy? In the framework of the elections of 7 December, Carnegie points at the concentration of power in the executive as a factor undermining the country’s electoral and judicial institutions.
Between 18-19 January 2016, the ICDPCP 18th Conference on Democracy, Political and Civic Participation will take place in London, bringing together leading academic experts, researchers, and practitioners working in these fields.
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Is the new era of civic activism in Kazakhstan already at its end? After the arrest of two prominent activists, the Kazakh Ministry of Development and Innovation has announced plans to launch a ‘Great Firewall’ that would undermine online activism.
In the context of corrupted parliamentary voting and on-going investigations on election malpractice, Somalia’s presidential elections – previously scheduled for 30 November – have been postponed for a third time.
After the Petrobras corruption scandal and the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff, the new political movement Agora! strives to counterbalance calls for a return to military rule in Brazil.
What went wrong with democracy assistance in the DRC? Tom O’Bryan finds that recent international efforts have been underfunded, geographically narrow and have focused too little on supporting political parties and on reinforcing public institutions, such as electoral management bodies or courts.
Acknowledging the EU’s interest in strengthening relations with countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Istituto Affari Internazionali questions recent trends in EU’s development and security policies and gives recommendations for a way forward.
On the basis of a global survey on 87 countries, International IDEA gives policy recommendations encouraging the institutionalisation of risk management in elections.
Are liberal democracies around the world at risk of decline? Research by Yascha Mounk questions the irreversibility of democratic processes, finding a correlation between low public support for democracy and deconsolidation of once democratic systems.
Between 7-9 December 2016 the fourth Open Government Partnership (OGP) will take place in Paris: Heads of State, ministers, MPs, local authorities, CSOs, researchers and journalists from 70 countries will share their experiences and push forward the OGP agenda in the fields of transparency, citizen participation, and democratic innovation.
Further details on the event can be found on this page.
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The Lebanese popular movements of 2015 are turning themselves into reformist parties that could challenge the country’s political establishment during parliamentary elections next summer.
On December 1st Gambian voters will go to the polls where the fractious opposition parties hope to finally oust autocratic President Jammeh, in power since 1994, through forming a broad coalition.
What is happening behind the scenes in Russia? Carnegie looks at the political machinations behind the arrest of the long-serving Minister of Economic Development Ulyukayev, charged with taking a $2m bribe.
Is democracy perceived as the best form of government in Africa? Afrobarometer questions what citizens in 36 African countries actually think about democracy with interesting results from a number of countries.
As resentment grows in Southern Algeria, the International Crisis Group looks in-depth at economic, political, and societal issues in the country arguing that the central government should deal with shortcomings of governance and decentralise its policy making.
Following the release of the EU Joint Communication “Towards a renewed partnership with ACP countries after 2020”, Kaleidos Research argues EU-ACP relations should be adapted to a new global sustainable development agenda with a stronger focus on Policy Coherence and civil society engagement.
On December 5th and 6th the German Development Institute (DIE) in partnership with the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR) will organise the conference “A new social contract for MENA countries: Experiences from Development and Social Policies” in Bonn, questioning the role that social citizenship can play in the construction of a more just social order in the MENA region.
Further information on the event, as well as its draft programme, can be found here.
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Previously postponed on account of Hurricane Matthew, presidential elections in Haiti are now scheduled to take place next Sunday, although the country is in lack of food, voting centres, voter IDs, and clear streets.
Another blow to independent civil society in Egypt: the country’s parliament has passed a bill that, if approved by President Sisi, would severely restrict (inter)national NGOs’ ability to operate.
What does Trump’s presidency imply for Eastern Europe? If the US adopted an isolationist approach, Eastern European countries would lose a key security bulwark against Russia and could be prompted to further increase their military spending.
Are EU policies coherent with the SDGs? One year after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, CONCORD analyses the actions undertaken so far by the EU and its member states and recommends a more comprehensive way forward.
Taking account of Western donors’ approaches towards governance support in African states, Rosie Pinnington warns of aligning expected results with the interests of ruling elites: particularly ‘politically smart’ and ‘locally led’ models of democracy support should not enforce the status quo, but rearrange power dynamics instead.
What will a pro-Russian Moldovan presidency mean for Europe? Paul Ivan analyses the main controversies of the campaign, arguing that the EU should not underestimate Dodon’s capacity to undermine EU-Moldovan relations.
On November 22nd the panel discussion “Gangnam Blues: South Korea between Boom and Crisis”, taking place at the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s offices in Berlin, will offer commentary on the latest economic, political, and social developments affecting the Korean peninsula.
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Washington D.C. has turned red, with Trump elected for president and both the House and the Senate now republican. In a thought-provoking article in the New Yorker, Caleb Crain considers the diverging philosophical arguments for “epistocracy” over democracy in light of the controversial nature of the elections.
After low electoral turnout during the September national elections in Jordan, the youth movement Shaghaf is striving to train local-level representatives, encourage political debate, and better connect representatives with their electorate.
Protests last Sunday following a ruling preventing elected Hong-Kong pro-independence politicians from taking office are likely to lead to further clashes in the coming weeks.
Is Cuba on its way to political change? Casey Cagley points at several similarities between Cuba today and the Myanmar of 10 years ago, arguing that Cubans fighting for change might learn some lessons from what happened in Myanmar.
In the wake of the US election, Giovanni Grevi looks at the future for Europe: Trump’s most likely focus on US internal policy might be counterbalanced by stronger EU foreign, security, and defence policy.
How can democracy contribute to development and growth in Africa? A paper by ISS argues that well managed, clean and competitive elections might be the answer, providing a counterbalance to the effects of neo-patrimonialism.
In the framework of lecture series looking at Agenda 2030, on 15 December 2016 senior researchers and representatives of DIE and the World Bank will meet in Bonn to discuss the topic “Inequality: Strategies for Inclusion in a Polarising World”.
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The gruesome death of a fishmonger has sparked nationwide protests in Morocco that some compare to the 2010 Tunisian uprisings.
A glass-half-empty election? Characterised by contrasting and uncertain polls and the fragmentation of an undecided electorate, the bout between Clinton and Trump is seen by many as a wider crisis of Western democratic politics.
DemDigest provides an overview of Pakistani democracy, with links to various analyses: despite a relatively vibrant civil society and independent media, it remains under threat due to the power of the military establishment.
Who is pulling the strings behind the South Korean presidency? “Choi Soon-sil-gate” has raised protests and calls for impeachment, with serious repercussions on the country’s strategic position in foreign affairs.
A review of constitution-building processes released by International IDEA analyses constitutional transitions in Africa, the Pacific, Myanmar, Thailand, Armenia, Ukraine, as well as France and Hungary, questioning their long-term effects on democracy.
Is there a second chance for EU-Armenia relations? After the failed attempt at an AA and DCFTA, Kostanyan and Giragosian suggest a way forward, encouraging further differentiation and flexibility in the EU approach towards third countries.
Mohamed El-Ansary considers the role of public prosecution in Egypt’s recent history, showing how this “independent” institution has contributed to the crackdown on dissent following the 2013 military’s ouster of President Morsi.
Between 16-19 November 2016 the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy 2016 will take place in Donostia/San Sebastian (Spain), and will focus on local and regional democracy issues, as well as worldwide social movements.
Further information on the event and its final programme can be found here.
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How stable is Egypt? Shortages of basic food and soaring food prices are fuelling discontent and the government has been forced to make unpopular cuts to a subsidies programme while waiting for a loan from the IMF.
In the framework of the worldwide decline of democracy, Brian Klaas argues that xenophobic and populist tendencies inside the West seriously put into question democratic transitions elsewhere.
Is Venezuela facing a democratic crisis? The attempts to find a compromise between the country’s government and the opposition have recently been undermined by the suspension of the process to carry out a recall referendum on President Maduro.
Are multiparty elections a path from authoritarianism to democracy, or rather a source of authoritarian stability? A paper by V-Dem considers how experiences with multiparty elections in authoritarian states influenced patterns of survival and transition from 1946-2010.
In the latest issue of the Journal of Democracy that focuses on the anti-democratic “spectre haunting Europe”, Takis Pappas delineates three categories of political parties that are currently challenging Europe’s liberal-democratic consensus.
The 2016 CONCORD Aidwatch Report shows that the rise of negative political narratives regarding immigrants and refugees challenges the quantity and quality of official development assistance in several EU countries.
On 8 November the University of Antwerp will organise a debate entitled “The struggle for democracy after the Arab Spring”, questioning the type of transition undertaken by countries that are currently characterised by civil war, strife, and the rise of jihadism.
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At the end of the political transition in 2012, the federal government of Somalia announced that it would organise democratic elections in 2016 – instead, a complex clan-based electoral system will lead to a new government in November.
Despite the adoption of binding international legal commitments, Mexico is far from complying with human rights norms: this “compliance gap” could be attributed to domestic institutional and social factors, such as the regime type, the independence of the judiciary, and the strength of civil society.
Can a vote in Maine revitalise US democracy? Larry Diamond argues that a vote there to use ranked-choice voting (RCV) could send a powerful signal for reform.
A briefing by International Crisis Group analyses current political and social tensions in the DRC: after President Kabila’s attempt to stay in power beyond his second and last constitutionally-permitted term, violent protests have spread in the country.
In openDemocracy, Ben Graham Jones looks at the future of electoral observation, highlighting three trends that may have an impact on methodology in coming years.
A policy brief by EPC analyses public anxiety and dissatisfaction affecting democracies, arguing that in order to face these challenges, democratic societies need to undertake reflection and embark on renewal in line with core liberal principles.
Between 7-9 November the World Forum for Democracy will be held in Strasbourg and will focus on the relationship between education and democracy, exploring the ways in which education bridges social divides.
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On October 16 Montenegro will go to the polls to elect its 86-seat parliament: 18 electoral lists are competing in the campaign, which is deeply divided among those who favour and those who oppose European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
In the context of the political, social, and food crisis affecting Venezuela, Maduro is progressively loosing control of the legislature, while the army – the main political force shaping the country’s politics – is growing more influential.
Lincoln Mitchell analyses the outcomes of the recent Georgian parliamentary elections: despite high competition for votes, the potential for a throwback to one-party governance and the underdeveloped political pluralism will be clear challenges moving forward.
Graeme Ramshaw of WFD looks at theories of change for political parties and parliaments and asks several pertinent questions for practitioners and evaluators alike.
Will the EU ‘lose’ Moldova? The EU’s and US’ support of Vlad Plahotniuc might counterbalance Russian influence, but risks eroding the already-waning pro-Western and pro-European sentiment in the country in the long-run.
International IDEA and Clingendael recently released a report on the influence of organised crime on elections and political parties: the Georgian, Mexican, and Malian cases illustrate global trends such as the role of money in politics and the high degree of polarisation of the political spectrum.
On October 24th and 25th 2016 the Anna Lindh Foundation will launch the third edition of its “Euro-Mediterranean Forum on Intercultural Dialogue” in Valetta, with the aim of strengthening intercultural dialogue in the Mediterranean region.
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The controversial referendum recently held in the Republika Srpska has revealed the shortcomings of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political system, whose destabilisation is sure to negatively impact the entire Balkan region.
The EU has denied that the planned EUR 13.6bn aid package presented at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistanis conditional upon the return of Afghan asylum-seekers to their home country.
Tom Carothers uses the lenses of systemic exclusion and inclusive governance to understand the connectionbetween state fragility and the growing global trend of closing space for civil society.
The European Parliamentary Research Service has released a briefing on e-voting, whose development might speed up, simplify, and reduce the costs of elections, lead to higher electoral turnout, and have a positive impact on democracy.
In the aftermath of Islam Karimov’s death, a briefing by International Crisis Group analyses Uzbekistan’s current transition process and questions the regional, international and European interests in re-engagement.
Between 16-19 October the 20th Forum 2000 Conference “The Courage to take Responsibility” in Prague will bring together politicians, philosophers, authors, dissidents, experts and artists, focusing on the crisis of democratic leadership and the current world’s challenges.
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In the coming weeks Azerbaijan will announce the results of its controversial constitutional referendum, which according to many will give unprecedented power to President Ihlam Aliyev.
For the first time in 15 years the EU will not introduce any resolution to the UN condemning the human rights’ record of Myanmar: that is what Federica Mogherini confirmed after having praised the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.
On 8 October a parliamentary election will take place in Georgia, and for the first time of the country’s recent history there is no charismatic saviour dominating headlines.
The Institute For Integrated Transitions (IFIT) has released a guide whose aim is to provide those in transition contexts with a better understanding of the Western aid machine for democracy and peace building.
The European Parliament’s research service gives worrying evidence of the human rights situation in Russia, where freedom of expression, human rights activists, access to justice, and equal treatment of ethnic minorities and migrants are undermined on a daily basis.
CEPS has published a policy brief questioning the system of EU Special Representatives: these figures continue to play a key role in the EU foreign and security policy although there is clear room for improvement.
On October 27th the Pontis Foundation will be organising an international conference entitled “Development and Democracy” in Bratislava, setting the priorities of the Slovakian Presidency of the Council of the EU and offering to NGOs, policy-makers, academics, and individuals the opportunity to debate on democratisation, migration, and development issues.
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Indian president Narenda Modi is facing his most difficult challenge so far after an attack against an army-base in Kashmir rekindled tension over the future of the contested region.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, deadly demonstrations against the president and attacks against the opposition are escalating, as the decision to delay elections remains unchanged.
Malaysia’s opposition has accused the government of gerrymandering in order to keep Prime Minister Najib Razak from losing power.
The Council of the EU released the Country and Regional Issues section of the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2015, providing a short overview of the human rights situation and covering EU policy support on the ground on a country by country basis.
The Project on Middle East Political Science analyses the impact of transnational diffusion and cooperation in regional politics in the Middle East.
Alina Rocha Menocal looks at the role played by elections, which are now almost universally present around the world with vastly varying democratic results.
The Centre for European Policy Studies is organising an event under the framework of the ‘EU-CIVCAP’ project on “Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Forum: How to implement the EU Global Strategy” to be held on 29 September 2016 in Brussels.
You can find more information about the event here and you can register here.
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This phenomenon is also common in other areas of the world: a new constitutional reform will allow Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow to rule for the rest of his life.
Corruption and organised crime put a damper on democratic progress in Guatemala. Despite the difficulties, the country seems to be moving in the right direction.
A new publication by Carnegie highlights the importance of women’s political empowerment in democracy support.
ECDPM released a new study exploring four possible scenarios for future EU-ACP Countries relations.
In OpenDemocracy, Devin Ackles describes the deadlock in Belorussian politics.
The 2016 World Forum for Democracy, organised by the Council of Europe, will focus on the relationship between education and democracy, and will take place from 7 to 9 November 2016, in Strasbourg.
You can find more information here.
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Venezuela’s opposition has failed to capitalise on the discontent with President Maduro so far. However, the nature and effectiveness of protests seems now to be changing.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seems to have decided to run for a second term, although Egypt’s economic woes and a growing popular intolerance will stand in the president’s way.
After one year of protests leading to last July’s violent outbreaks, Armenia’s PM Hovik Abrahamyan stepped downtoday, paving the way to a new coalition government.
The European Parliament Think Tank analyses the role of Development Policy in the EU external relations.
In OpenDemocracy, Maxim Eristavi explores the responsibilities of Ukraine’s political elite in the episodes of violence against journalists.
The Diplomat describes what the future holds for Uzbekistan after the first political transition in the country’s history.
The third edition of the Leuven-Montreal Winter School will focus on elections and voting behaviour and will take place from 25 February to 5 March 2017 at the University of Leuven.
You can find more information about it here.
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Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov’s health woes have unfolded speculations on his succession. As Central Asia is kept relatively peaceful by a handful of aging man, Uzbekistan could just be the first spark of regional instability.
The Burmese government has started a five-day peace talk with 17 different ethnic groups. Recent developments give reasons for hopes, albeit several challenges remain.
Violence broke out in Libreville yesterday, after Gabonese president Ali Bongo won re-election with a narrow majority. The opposition claims the vote was stolen.
In the Guardian, Christopher de Bellaigue describes Erdogan’s demokrasi.
Chatham House explores the current crisis of Southern Africa’s Liberation Movements.
The New Yorker presents Ukraine’s political developments through the story of Mustafa Nayyem and Serhiy Leshchenko, two journalists who became politicians after the Maidan Revolution.
The European Endowment for Democracy and the Office of International IDEA to the EU are organising a panel discussion entitled “Money in politics: State-building, democracy and corruption in the Eastern Neighbourhood” to be held on 16 September in Brussels.
You can find more information about the event here and you can register here.
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After the ceasefire reached in June, Colombia and Farc rebels have finally signed a historic peace agreement. Colombian citizens must now approve it via referendum, but a positive result must not be taken for granted.
The political chaos in Libya is set to continue as the UN-backed government suffered a no-confidence vote by the Parliament in Tobruk last Monday. PM al-Serraj will propose a new cabinet in the following weeks.
The opposition in DRC is getting increasingly vocal against President Kabila’s attempt to further postpone elections and now calls for a new ‘ville morte’ strike.
After 20 years of undisputed rule by the African National Congress, South Africa’s new coalitions in local governments will face the challenge of dismantling patronage politics.
The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy and International IDEA have published a discussion paperanalysing the role of money in politics and its influence on gender equality in Tunisia.
The New York Times Magazine has published a long featured story telling the story of the Arabian world since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In OpenDemocracy, Erwin Van Veen examines the difficult implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16.
The Balkan Civil Society Development Network is organising a debate entitled “Raising Standards, Declining Trends? Operating Environment for Civil Society in Enlargement Countries” to be held on 7 September 2016 in Brussels.
You can find more information about the event and registration here.
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Haiti is gearing up to have a redo of an annulled presidential election without external assistance.
The solution for Venezuela ever overcoming the present crisis lies in political dialogue, mediation and negotiation.
A new investigation by Amnesty International reveals the extent of torture and ill-treatment in Syrian detention facilities and the ordeal of the survivors.
Franck McLoughlin makes a case for electoral justice systems in democracy-building processes in the latest Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance policy paper.
Quartz wonders: is Internet freedom a tool for democracy or authoritarianism?
What has commanded to the fate of the Middle East over the past 13 years? Scott Anderson tries to find an answer through the itineraries of six people from Libya to Iraq in the New York Times Magazine.
The Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies organises an International Seminar on ‘The New Global Strategy of the European Union’. This event will be held on 1 September 2016 in Leuven.
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Thai voters have unexpectedly approved the new military-backed constitution, strongly condemned by human rights groups and political parties. Many see this as a preference for economic stability over a fully-fledged democracy.
The timeline presented by Venezuelan authorities for a recall referendum against President Maduro makes early elections unlikely, preventing the opposition to take power.
Ethiopian security forces have killed almost 100 people in attempt to suppress a storm of anti-government protests taking place throughout the country.
Foreign Policy published “Tunisia: In Sun and Shadow”, an in-depth investigation of the country’s rocky path to democracy.
Can nationalism be beneficial for democracy? Marc Plattner discusses this in the Democracy Digest blog.
In OpenDemocracy, Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska analyses characteristics and implications of Azerbaijan’s new draft constitution.
The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, in cooperation with International IDEA, is organising an expert meeting entitled “Engaging with political parties in fragile and conflict-affected settings”. This event will be held on 15 September 2016 in The Hague.
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The Tunisian Parliament voted this weekend to dismiss PM Habib Essid from his position. However, many think he was not given enough time to pass the reforms needed. President Essebsi wants to replace him with his son-in-law, drawing criticism from both the opposition and Essebsi’s own Nidaa Tounes party.
On the eve of the Olympic games, Brazil’s political situation remains very tense. Thousands have taken the streetsboth in support of and against the government, while former president Lula will stand trial for obstruction to justice.
Amid a growing sense of disillusionment, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has taken an early lead in local elections, but will possibly lose key cities for the first time since 1994.
Nicaragua’s president Daniel Ortega has chosen his wife, the government’s spokeswoman and new age spirituality enthusiast, as his running mate, provoking the ire of the opposition.
International Crisis Group has released a new report taking stock of the first four months of Myanmar’s new government.
The Guardian explores 1MDB, the huge financial scandal that has riveted Malaysia’s Najib Razak and brought protesters to the streets.
The Atlantic Council analyses the difficult situation of press freedom in Ukraine.
The Swiss Peace Foundation is organising a 4-day training course on National Dialogue and Peace Mediation, to be held from 13 to 17 February 2017 in Basel.
You can find more information on the course here and apply here.
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As Colombian opposition is campaigning for the “no”, the referendum on the peace deal that will take place later this year could lead to a surprise outcome.
One year after the adoption of a new Constitution, Nepal’s political instability is hindering every attempt to tackle the most pressing national issues.
The United Nations Economic and Social Council has released its annual report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
ECDPM has published a discussion paper focusing on the EU approach to policy coherence for sustainable development
Chatham House discusses the risks of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on regional stability.
Friends of Europe is organising a Policy Insight debate with Professor John Esposito on “Political leadership, Islam and integration” to be held on 8 September 2016 in Brussels.
You can find more information about the event here.
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The Council of the EU has officially backed José Luis Zapatero and his colleagues as mediators between the Venezuelan government and the opposition. In the meanwhile, Nicolas Maduro is resorting to the military as a last-ditch effort to stay in power.
Prominent Belorussian journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in a car explosion yesterday. Sheremet was highly critical of the Kremlin and worked for the independent news website Ukrayinska Pravda.
Has Mugabe’s 36-year long rule ever been this close to coming to an end? The government is facing rising discontent and increasingly larger protests.
The new Journal of Democracy examines why the seemingly promising gain for freedom from the Soviet breakup have produced disappointing results.
International IDEA has released an in-depth publication assessing the quality of democracy in Latin America.
The Istituto Affari Internazionali explores the practical implications of the new EU Global Strategy for the Middle East and North Africa in the next 10 years.
EPD, International IDEA, ENoP and EED are organising, in collaboration with the EEAS and the European Parliament (EP), a day-long event on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, to be held at the EP on 28 September 2016. Speakers will include the EP President Martin Schulz.
For more information you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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Is there a new war in South Sudan? Clashes between rival military factions have broken out in Juba, plunging the country back into chaos less than one year after the ceasefire.
In Al-Monitor, Mustafa Akyol argues that those who believe that Turkey’s recent foreign policy choices will also bring reconciliation within the country will probably remain disappointed.
A new investigation by Amnesty International has revealed an unprecedented spike in enforced disappearances in Egypt since early 2015.
The Open Dialogue Foundation published a new report detailing cases of Ukrainian citizens illegally detained in the Russian Federation.
Carnegie asserts that the contribution of rising democracies to democracy support has been weaker than Western policymakers had hoped.
The Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy 2016, “From Local Participation to Global Coexistance”, will take place from 16 to 19 November 2016 in San Sebastián, Spain. The 4-day event will focus on the role of social movements and local governments in transparency, accountability, delegation and participation.
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New large strikes and protests have sparked in Zimbabwe, where the country’s situation is making Mugabe’s position increasingly frail.
In Iran, a large payslip scandal is unsettling the whole political establishment and putting under serious threat the prospects of President Rouhani’s re-election.
The Venezuelan government is currently detaining 96 political prisoners. Americas Society and Council of the Americas highlight the most emblematic cases.
The Fund for Peace has published the 2016 Fragile States Index. Surprisingly, Hungary is the country that has worsened the most in 2016, while Sri Lanka is the most improved.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty examines the situation in Tunisia 5 years after the Jasmine Revolution.
Quartz describes the “post-factual democracy”, where opportune agendas and impracticable promises have replaced truth and evidence.
The International Peace and Development Training Centre is organising a 3-day training programme entitled “Making Early Warning, Prevention & Peacebuilding Work”, to be held on 19-21 October 2016, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
You can apply and find more information here.
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Federica Mogherini presented the new EU Global Strategy “ Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe” at yesterday’s European Council.
As the Venezuelan opposition is stepping up efforts to oust President Maduro, the government is doing its best to stall the process.
In Sri Lanka, the rising of a new Sinhala-Buddhist ultra-nationalist movement could undermine the country’s reconciliation process.
The Mongolian People’s Party won the parliamentary elections in a landslide, defeating the ruling Democratic Party in a vote highly influenced by economic concerns.
The Directorate-General for External Policies of the European Parliament calls for an EU Strategy for relations with Iran after the nuclear deal.
David Van Reybrouck argues that referendums and elections are outmoded instruments of public deliberation and need to be updated to save democracy.
Using the example of Madagascar, Foreign Policy explains how labelling fake democracies as full-fledged can harm real democracies.
On the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, International IDEA is organising an interactive conference on the opportunities, limitations and future prospects of participatory democracy and active citizenship, to be held on 15 September 2015, in Stockholm. The event will consist of three seminars and workshops.
You can find more information about the event here.
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The Colombian government and the FARC have officially agreed to a cease-fire, an important step to putting an end to a 52-year long conflict.
Good news also from Tunisia. Last week, the Parliament passed a law likely to increase women’s representation across the country in next year’s local elections.
Despite their formal commitment to democracy, South American regional organisations have never taken a strong stance vis-à-vis Venezuela. However, recent political changes in the region might get things moving.
On 31 May, Mohamed Abdelaziz, the historic leader of the Saharawi Republic, passed away. What is next for Western Sahara?
The Council of the EU released the 2015 Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, describing how the EU addresses human rights and democracy challenges in its external policy.
The European Policy Centre published a collection of six essays focusing on the EU’s multilateral approach in foreign policy within the context of the forthcoming EU Global Strategy.
Washington Monthly analyses one of the most serious headaches of Myanmar’s new government, namely the Rohingya issue.
The Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies are organising an event entitled “Egypt’s Civil Society on the Brink? Politics from Below Five Years after the Revolution”, to be held on 16 July 2016 in Berlin. The event will bring together professionals and researchers and will feature workshops and a panel discussion.
You can find more information about the event here. The deadline to apply has been extended to 30 June.
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Last week, the EU approved a €500 million loan to consolidate Tunisia’s democratic mechanisms. Despite the successful democratic transition, the economic problems at the root of the Arab Spring have not been addressed successfully.
The Thai referendum on the new constitution is approaching and the junta is now resorting to soft power to build trust and political support in the rural areas.
Libyan National Army’s General Haftar has never showed enthusiasm towards the Government of National Accord. His popularity and numerous allies now risk to worsen the country’s political divide.
Press freedom is a major casualty of the current Burundian crisis. However, shattered TV and radio channels are gradually being replaced by new media.
ECDPM explores the EU’s approach to the 11th European Development Fund regional programming and the prospects for supporting regional integration in a new discussion paper.
The Institute for Security Studies analyses SADC’s new guidelines for elections observation, calling for the inclusion of civil society and a stronger focus on post-electoral violence.
Politico Magazine argues that despite the Cuba-US rapprochement Fidel Castro and the elders of the Party are trying to resist reforms.
Friends of Europe is launching the 2016 Security Jam report on 30 June 2016 in Brussels. The final report features 10 recommendations, “The 10 Steps for a Safer World”, and a road map of concrete initiatives. It will be discussed by EEAS and US officials, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders and Amnesty International.
You can find more information on the event here.
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Turkish president Erdogan signed a new law stripping parliamentary immunity for MPs. The opposition sees it as a strategy to remove the pro-Kurdish party from the Parliament.
Two weeks ago, Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova was released from prison. Foreign Policy profiles “the world’s most famous dissident journalist”.
In the last weeks, political unrest has surged in Papua New Guinea amid calls for PM Peter O’Neill to resign over corruption scandals.
ECDPM and the Istituto Affari Internazionali published a working paper underlining how the new EU Global Strategy and the 2030 SDG agenda provide an opportunity to refresh the EU’s approach to development cooperation.
The Legatum Institute released the 2016 Africa Prosperity Report. The best results are achieved in the countries with stronger civil liberties and personal freedom.
The Institute for Economics and Peace published the 2016 Global Peace Index highlighting the fact that we live in a (slightly!) less safe world than 2015.
The European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA) is offering a three-day training course called “The practical methodological guide for brave project managers”, which will take place from 6 to 8 July 2016 in Pula, Croatia.
More information about the programme is available here.
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King Abdullah II of Jordan appointed a new Prime Minister playing a caretaker role before the next elections, which will occur in a delicate transition period for the country. What is next for Jordan?
The Thai military junta is getting increasingly paranoid about dissidents and thoughtcrime arrests are becoming dangerously absurd.
After the signing of the Nuclear deal, Iran is being gradually reintegrated into the international society. A new report by CEPS offers recommendations for a comprehensive EU strategy for relations with Iran.
Since 2013, international aid to Ukraine has increased exponentially. How is the country using this money?
The dispersal of power in the Middle East allows smaller countries to take on bigger roles. Carnegie profiles these “swing states” and the opportunity they represent for the European diplomacy.
The Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP) is organising a panel discussion, entitled “EU enlargement and the role of CSO in the Western Balkans’ democratic development” on behalf of the European Commission DG – NEAR, to be hold on 7 June 2016 in Berlin.
You can find more information about the event and the registration here.
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In this week’s Council conclusions, the EU calls the DR Congo to create the necessary conditions for a free, peaceful and transparent electoral competition. Joseph Kabila’s unwillingness to organise new elections leaves room to worrying scenarios.
Yesterday, Ukrainian pilot and celebrity Nadyia Savchenko, whose arrest was strongly criticised by the West, has been released as a part of a prisoner swap with two Russian agents. On the same day, internationally honoured investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was also freed after Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court reduced her prison term.
Last week, surprisingly large protests erupted in Kazakhstan after the government had passed a contentious land reform. However, the legislative change seems to be merely the spark for the demonstrations.
Has Tunisia’s Ennahda Party decided to abandon political Islam? Al-Jazeera explores the results of the party’s congress.
In the context of the EUSpring project, a newly published paper analyses the approach and instruments of the EU in democracy assistance to the Middle East and North Africa.
Amid the constant flow of bad news from Ukraine, the Kyiv Post explains the reasons why the country should be optimistic about its future.
DRI examines Sri Lanka’s current political transition and the challenges the country will have to face in order to strengthen its political stability and economic prosperity.
The Instituto de Estudos Politicos is organising, in association with the International Forum for Democratic Studies, the Estoril Political Forum 2016. This edition will be entitled “Democracy and its Enemies – New Threats, New Possibilities” and will take place from 27 to 29 June in Estoril, Portugal.
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After Dilma Rousseff’s chaotic impeachment, it looks as if Michel Temer’s new cabinet was purposely formed to fuel controversy. Meanwhile in Cannes, Brazilian film celebrities joined the opposition in accusing the new president of a coup d’état.
One month after the election of the new Burmese government, Aung San Suu Kyi is accused of violating human rights due to the way she is handling the Rohingya issue.
Like many African leaders before him, DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila aims to stay in power over his mandate. According to the Institute for Security Studies, the African Union should not stay silent.
In view of the new EU Global Strategy to be presented in June, CONCORD published a paper calling for a long-term approach rooted in human rights and sustainable development.
Is Moldova a success-story of European integration? New Eastern Europe says its recent political developments are making things difficult for the EU.
Since Russian annexation of Crimea, national minorities have been subjected to systematic violations of human rights. The Policy Department of the DG for External Policies of the European Parliament has just released a studyon this issue.
Friends of Europe is organising two conferences to discuss the relationship between the Arab world and democracy. The first one, entitled “Islam and the Challenge of Muslim Democrats” will take place on 31 May in Brussels; the second one, entitled “Time for Peace – Europe’s challenge in Africa and the Middle East” on 1 June. You can find more information about these events here and here respectively.
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Today’s Council conclusions from EU Foreign Ministers show that the EU’s collective Official Development Assistance in 2015 increased by 15% compared to 2014. Despite this positive trend, transparency and commitment to international standards remain two significant issues.
Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte has won the Philippine presidential elections. Many observers have compared him to Donald Trump, even going so far as to say his unpredictability could be more of a threat to the world.
Southern Africa is experiencing very difficult times. Ethnically–driven riots in Zambia and corruption scandals in South Africa are undermining the progress of two of the most promising African democracies.
Is Western aid beneficial for Ukrainian reforms? The Washington Post explores the relationship between foreign assistance and corruption in post-communist Ukraine.
The Brookings Institute analyses non-state social orders in South Asia and the ways in which Western organisations might be able to engage with members of these communities more effectively.
Finally some good news! In Colombia, KAS underlines how the peace agreement between the government and FARC guerrillas is just one of the reasons that the country’s future looks bright.
NED is organising a conference entitled “Is Democracy Healthy in Latin America?” that will take place on 19 May 2016 in Washington, DC. Panellists will focus on the current state of democracy in Latin America and will discuss different issues, such as corruption, capacity of democratic institutions and the role of the international community.
The event will be livestreamed here.
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Due to political tensions, monopolies, corruption and organised crime, Latin America’s press freedom has deteriorated dramatically in the past year.
On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, Egyptian police stormed the Press Syndicate arresting the journalists who staged a sit-it. This incident raises further concerns about the future of press freedom under El-Sisi’s regime.
The EU’s reluctance to speed up the accession process in the past years and the current indulgency vis-à-vis human rights violations may have significantly contributed to strengthening Erdogan’s grip on power.
Are international elections observers effective? Foreign Policy explores troubles and shortcomings of EU monitoring missions, providing the example of Uganda.
Many analysts consider Russia’s current political regime unstable. In a newly published paper, the European Council for Foreign Relations boldly predicts that without radical change Putin’s regime will collapse within the next year.
While Myanmar is gradually strengthening its democracy, Thai military junta’s rule appears stronger than ever. The Irrawaddy compares the two countries and suggests that Thailand could learn from its neighbours.
The German Institute of Global and Area Studies is holding an event titled “How to Foster Good Governance and Anti-Corruption in European Development Aid” on 19 May 2016 in Berlin. Speakers will discuss the relation between European aid and promotion of good governance in the EU’s neighbourhood and African partner countries, focusing specifically on the examples of Egypt, Tunisia, Ghana and Tanzania.
You can find more information about this event here.
28th April 2016
A LA UNE
The Turkish opposition fear that the principle of secularism will be removed from the Constitution, after Parliamentary speaker Ismail Kahraman called for a religious national charter. Despite this, the rise of Daesh may strengthen secularism within Turkish society.
The United Malays National Organisation has been ruling Malaysia since its independence, but today its power is seriously contested. Corruption scandals and an increasingly severe crackdown on the free press are making PM Najib Razak’s position progressively precarious.
A controversial new Chinese law forces foreign NGOs to register with public security officials. Campaigners describe the government’s offensive against civil society as the worst in nearly three decades.
The western model of democracy is facing increasingly difficult challenges and losing credibility at the international level. Carnegie Europe has looked at possible approaches to non-Western forms of democracy.
The Istituto Affari Internazionali published a working paper focusing on the importance of youth empowerment in consolidating Tunisia’s fragile democracy.
How can the African Union play a significant role in democracy-building on the continent? International IDEA takes on this issue in a newly published analysis.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day celebrations will take place from 2 to 4 May 2016 in Helsinki, Finland. The annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize ceremony will be held on 3 May 2016 and will be awarded to Azeri investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.
You can find more information about the event and the World Press Freedom Day here.
21st April 2016
A LA UNE
EU leaders offered more assistance to Libya’s new unity government at the FAC meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. Despite criticism, al-Serraj’s cabinet is gathering more support both domestically and internationally.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is marred in several scandals, but is firmly defending his position. As citizens are showing a growing contempt for the President, the ANC might ditch Zuma to save itself.
El-Sisi regime’s crackdown on civil liberties has made life of CSOs worse than under Hosni Mubarak’s rule, says a prominent Egyptian activist in the New York Times.
The European Think Thank Group published a new briefing underlining the importance of democracy and human rights for the EU in the context of the upcoming EU Global Strategy for external affairs.
Ukraine is struggling to implement anti-corruption reforms primarily due to the obstacles of entrenched oligarchical interests. The European Council on Foreign Relations analyses this issue in a newly published policy brief.
Freedom House released the “Nations in Transit” 2016 report, which reveals a worrying democratic decline in Eastern Europe and growing political instability in Central Asia.
The Institute for European Studies at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Egmont biannually organise the ‘European Union in International Affairs’ (EUIA) Conference. The fifth edition will take place from 11 to 13 May in Brussels.
14th April 2016
A LA UNE
What does Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s resignation mean for Ukraine? Probably even more risks for Petro Poroshenko’s rule, says Carnegie Europe. Some consider current Odessa Oblast governor and former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili as a possible replacement.
Turkey was considered as a beacon of democratic development in the early 2000s. Nowadays, Turkey’s drift back into authoritarianism has not only damaged its own democracy, but has also undermined its pro-democracy foreign policy agenda.
Central Africa is home to some of the longest-serving and most authoritarian African presidents. However, a vibrant civil society is emerging thanks to social media.
Since 2011 elections, Ennahda has been the most important voice in Tunisia’s emerging democracy. Brookings explores the goals and narratives of the Tunisian “Muslim-Democrat” party.
What is the role of non-state actors supported by Russia? Chatham House analyses the proxy groups used by the Kremlin to promote its foreign policy objectives.
The new Journal of Democracy examines the Myanmar’s new power configuration and the challenges the new government will have to face.
The European Development Days 2016 will take place in Brussels on 15-16 June. Organised by the European Commission, this forum brings the development community together over 2 days each year.
Registration is now open on the forum’s website.
7th April 2016
A LA UNE
The Panama Papers show once again the importance of investigative journalism to reveal the truth and push for reforms when parliaments prevaricate.
The recent outbreak of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh is the most serious escalation since 1994. The International Crisis Group explains the complex reasons behind this renewed violence.
Democracy remains no closer to return to Thailand as the new constitution drafted by the junta might transfer more power from elected officials to the military.
A newly published briefing by the European Parliamentary Research Service analyses the complex African democratic landscape, focusing on power alternation and presidential term limits.
An interview with Colombian hacker Andrés Sepulveda caused a stir throughout Latin America and the United States, as he claimed to have committed a variety of cybercrimes to affect the outcomes of elections.
Since 2010, Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza has been accused of progressively serious acts of authoritarianism. Ventures Africa explores all the fundamental stages that led to the “tragic death of Burundi’s democracy”.
From 25 to 28 April 2016, Friends of Europe will host an online brainstorming entitled “2016 Security Jam – Beyond conventional security challenges”. It will unite thousands of experts on security, human rights and development from governments, international organisations, NGOs and academia. The Jam will feed into the EU’s thinking on a new Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy.
More information is available on the website.
31st March 2016
A LA UNE
Since the turn of the year, Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif has vowed to implement an increasingly progressive agenda and the Lahore bombing can be seen as an attempt to hamper this.
A Brazilian Richard Nixon? Yes, says the New Yorker. Dilma Rousseff is in trouble: widespread protests, a key party leaving the governing coalition and now a real chance of impeachment.
The Congolese opposition began the ‘ville morte’ national strikes this week, shutting part of Brazzaville to protest Sassou-Nguesso’s re-election. After a constitutional change removing the two-mandate limit, on 20 March the incumbent president was re-elected for his third mandate.
How can Europe respond to the migration challenge? According to Club de Madrid’s President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, democratic governance is the only answer.
A new paper by Marc Plattner of the Center for Democracy and Civil Society looks at the debate over whether democracy is actually in decline around the world.
Judy Dempsey from Carnegie summarises the contributions of analysts from the MENA region on EU Neighbourhood policy. It does not make for happy reading for the EU.
People in Need is organising the 10th edition of the One World Film Festival, which will take place in Brussels from 18 to 27 April 2016. It will offer 14 documentary films followed by panel discussions with film directors, politicians, human rights activists, international NGO leaders and the laureates of the Sakharov Price.
24th March 2016
A LA UNE
Following the attacks in Brussels this week, the Guardian looks at the impact of terrorist acts on domestic politics in Europe and its implications for liberty.
On 22 March 2016, Ukrainian pilot Nadyia Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in jail after being found guilty in Russia of charges relating to the death of two journalists. Several Western leaders and NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, have condemned the trial as unfair.
Businessman Patrice Talon defeated Benin’s incumbent Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou in last Sunday’s presidential elections. Will this transition be a step forward for African democratic consolidation?
What is the track record of the European Neighbourhood Policy ten years after its launch? According to the Jacques Delors Institute, it has suffered from a conception-performance gap.
Myanmar has a new government, but many observers are surprised by its eccentric composition. First of all, because Aung San Suu Kyi will hold 4 out of 21 positions in the cabinet.
Going against the flow of the rest of the continent, Senegal has decided via referendum to shorten the presidential mandate. The European Parliamentary Research Service explored the implications of this reform.
S&D Group organises the African Week in Brussels, from 5 to 11 April 2016. Conferences, seminars and cultural events will focus on African local governance, election observation, conflict resolution, development and more. The full programme and more information can be found here.
17th March 2016
A LA UNE
The EU Foreign Affairs Council decided to suspend all financial aid to the Burundian administration, as the government’s efforts to tackle the current crisis were not considered sufficient. Very tough months ahead for the world’s least happy country.
The return to direct presidential elections in Moldova could revive the country’s stagnating politics. The effects of this constitutional reform are currently unpredictable, as Moldavian political scene looks more complicated than ever.
The Malaysian government is imposing increasing restrictions on the press, as influential political personalities have been accused of involvement in large money-laundering affairs. This strategy seems to be working, as several independent newspapers and news sites have shut down.
Has the EU reacted well to the changes and the potentially dangerous intra-state cleavages in the Mediterranean region since the Arab Spring? The Institute for Mediterranean Studies investigates in a newly published paper.
Does Russia interfere in the internal affairs of European countries? The European Endowment for Democracy analyses the Kremlin’s ‘memetic warfare’ and promotion of Russian narratives in the European information space.
The New Yorker explores how communications technologies affect political parties in an article about the relationship between populism and new media.
The National Endowment for Democracy will hold a conference entitled “High Stakes in the Sahel: A Transatlantic Dialogue” on 23 March 2016. CSOs from several sub-Saharan countries, policy-makers and experts will discuss priorities and explore the role that civil society can play in strengthening democracy, guaranteeing security and building peace. The event will be livestreamed.
10th March 2016
A LA UNE
Myanmar’s National League for Democracy has nominated one of Aung San Suu Kyi’s closest aides for the presidency. ‘The Lady’ is barred from becoming President because of her sons’ dual nationality, but is likely to push for a constitutional change.
“Free press cannot be silenced”, chanted protesters as Turkish police shut down one of Turkey’s last opposition newspapers. The New York Times explores Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian moves.
Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou and businessman Patrice Talon are going head-to-head in the second round of the presidential elections in Benin. ECOWAS observers praised the election as “free and transparent”, confirming Benin’s status as a free country.
To mark International Women’s Day, The Economist investigates Saudi women’s situation since the coronation of King Salman. Things are not looking good.
Is Africa ruled by strongmen opposed to democracy? The answer is more complicated than we might assume, as The Guardian explains.
In Ukraine, most citizens would not associate women with political life, but want a more equal distribution of gender roles. These are the findings of the National Democratic Institute’s latest study on women’s political participation in Ukraine.
The Annual V-Dem Policy Dialogue Conference 2016 will be held at Handelshögskolan, University of Gothenburg, on the 18th of May. The conference will present the findings of V-Dem research over the past year.
3rd March 2016
A LA UNE
On the 27th February last year, the prominent opposition figure Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in Moscow. The lack of political will to fully investigate the killing is exemplary of Russia’s lost year.
Brazil’s biggest ever corruption case has reached former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula’s connection to the Petrobas scandal further weakens current President Dilma Roussef’s hold on power amidst massive opposition pressure.
Despite Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Burundi last week, President Pierre Nkurunziza remains adamant that he will not negotiate with the opposition. Security analysts are pessimistic as to whether there is a way out of the current crisis.
NIMD’s director Hans Bruning has written an article on Dutch democracy assistance, which is firmly embedded in the Dutch tradition of democracy stretching back to its Golden Age.
Is the fight against corruption automatically a democratic process? Alexander Clarkson challenges the assumption that anti-corruption campaigns are a sign of democratisation
The Bertelsmann Foundation has released its Transitions Index 2016, finding that repression is on the rise worldwide; polarisation and conflict intensity are also increasing; and the gap between economic and social development continues to widen. (All in all, not a good year then. At least DiCaprio won an Oscar).
NDI is launching a Global Call to Action to Stop Violence Against Women in Politics at their #NotTheCost conference on the 17th March. Madeleine Albright will be the keynote speaker.
25th February 2016
A LA UNE
The country often refers to itself as “the world’s most populous democracy”, yet India’s government is cracking down on free speech. Leaders of a student protest have been arrested on charges of sedition after they organised a demonstration against the 2013 execution of a Kashmiri man.
In Bolivia, voters narrowly rejected President Evo Morales’ proposal to change the referendum to extend his term. It is another defeat for the Latin American Left, with the region swinging towards the centre-right.
Amnesty International published its annual Human Rights in the World report. Here, the Independent showcases the ten worst violations of human rights from the past year.
ALDA have published the first in a series of articles on local democracy. This edition focuses on decentralised cooperation in the Eastern Partnership countries and provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities linked to decentralisation in those countries.
Voters across Africa have harnessed new technologies “to help monitor elected officials, bolster democracies and liberate election information”, writes Stephen Abbott Pugh in The Guardian. But will governments take any notice?
Participants of the Policy Forum on Development will meet on the 14th March for a two-day conference to discuss the EU’s development policy, the revised Cotonou Agreement, and cooperation between civil society organisations and local authorities.
18th February 2016
A LA UNE
It has been a tumultuous few weeks for Ukraine. With Yulia Tymoshenko’s party pulling out of the ruling coalition and PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk barely surviving a no-confidence vote, Politico’s Adrian Karatnycky provides a clear summary of the chaos.
The attacks in Ankara yesterday occurred in a time of increased authoritarianism in Turkey, according to Cihan Tugal. In an extract from his latest book, he argues that “the AKP regime has moved from soft totalitarianism to hard totalitarianism”.
There is growing suspicion that the torture and murder of PhD researcher Giulio Regeni in Egypt may be linked to the country’s security forces. The Economist investigates.
“The stability that relies on the heartbeat of one man is no real stability at all”: the Telegraph on why putting up with Arab dictators merely delays inevitable turmoil and upheaval.
Could the fall in oil prices force a move towards democratic development in countries like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Russia? This article points to improvements in Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil as a blueprint for political reforms in oil-producing countries.
Ted Piccone summarises his new book, “five rising democracies and the fate of the international liberal order” in this article on Brookings. You can also see the slideshow of infographics from the article, which covers Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey and India.
Dr. Bálint Magyar will present his latest book, “Post-Communist Mafia State” at the National Endowment for Democracy. The book looks at what Magyar calls the “hollowing out” of Hungarian democracy by the ruling Fidesz party. The event will be livestreamed.
11th February 2016
A LA UNE
As the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU prepares to vote on sanctions against Belarus, Brian Klaas writes that the West should maintain pressure on Minsk and demand change instead of softening its stance.
Violent clashes between protestors and police broke out in Hong Kong over the Lunar New Year and are widely considered to be linked to pro-democracy protests that began in late 2014.
Covering up the potholes? Egyptian President Sisi and his entourage drove down two miles of red carpet (!) to visit new housing for Cairo’s poorest residents. Yomi Kamzeem calls it another example of the disconnect between the military strongman and his citizens.
Latin America’s smallest country by population is also its most democratic and least corrupt. In the New York Times, Uki Goni praises “tiny Uruguay” as “one of the most progressive nations on earth”.
DRI has released a report summarising the parliamentary strengthening methods and programmes across the globe. The report finds similarities and differences in approaches of key players in the field.
This article by Louise Shaxson discusses why and when evidence is needed in the policy-making process. It proposes 5 “components of robustness” for consideration when presenting evidence.
Sciences Po Rennes is holding an international summer school from the 4th-6th July. The course, “Local Democracy, Decentralisation and Multilevel Governance”, aims to discuss themes such as participatory democracy, citizenship and theories of governance.
4th February 2016
A LA UNE
Monday marked a historic day for Myanmar as the new NLD-led parliament attended its first sitting. Despite this leap forward for democracy, human rights have not improved with the same speed.
Ahead of Uganda’s elections on the 18th of February, a dissident military general has been arrested for “illegal political activities” and a privately-owned radio station has been forced off the air a day after interviewing an opposition candidate. The incumbent, President Museveni, has ruled the country for three decades and is likely to win again despite increasing tensions.
Today, London is hosting the Support Syria Conference, a push to increase countries’ donations to the humanitarian crisis. The conference takes place just one day after the failure of the Syrian peace talks in Geneva. The Guardian is providing live updates on the conference, where Federica Mogherini has told “those who still believe there can be a military solution to this war” to “wake up”.
Botswana celebrates its fiftieth birthday this year, but Africa’s oldest continuous democracy is witnessing a worrying stagnation in its political development. Afrobarometer investigates what it will take to consolidate democracy in the country.
As protests continue in Moldova, Nicolas Bouchet argues that Moscow’s conflation of colour revolutions with warfare serves as justification for Russia’s military intervention abroad.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has published its Democracy Index 2015: Democracy in an age of anxiety, with disappointing scores for the US, South Korea, Japan, the Middle East and Central Europe. However, the report noted bright spots in Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
Reflecting on problems of credibility that U.S. democracy promoters face in light of democratic deficiencies back home, Thomas Carothers encourages democracy assistance organisations to incorporate national projects into their agendas.
On the 10th of February the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) is hosting an event in Washington DC to discuss the regional political developments that followed the Arab Spring five years ago.
28th January 2016
A LA UNE
What motivates the pro-Russian and pro-European factions in Moldova? David Stern argues that the reality of the Moldovan political crisis is far more complex than simple Cold War style geopolitics.
The corruption investigations into Malaysia’s prime minister, who received $681 million dollars from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, were dropped. This incident sends a clear message about the lack of democratic accountability in Malaysia.
The presidential and parliamentary elections in Uganda are fast approaching; Helen Epstein debates how much the elections do (not) count in terms of democracy.
The Freedom in the World 2016 Index has been published. A decline in freedom has been recorded in 72 countries, which is the largest decrease in 10 years.
The 25th of January marked the 5th anniversary since the revolution in Egypt. The question that remains is, how far is Egypt from ‘restoring democracy’?
What are the key institutional changes that have to be implemented in order to control corruption and achieve good governance? Alina Mungiu Pippiddi, explains in “ Learning from Virtuous Circles”.
The democratic transition in Myanmar will be one of the major developments to follow in the years to come. Suzzane Nossel suggests 10 useful tips for the newly elected Aung San Suu Kyi.
The fourth in series of global conferences highlighting the issues of Money in Politics will take place in Tbilisi, Georgia, 18-19 February and will focus on the role money plays in Eastern and Central Europe.
21st January 2016
A LA UNE
EU foreign ministers adopted conclusions on Libya at the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 18 January following the December agreement for a unity government. On 19 January, the new cabinet of this UN-backed Libyan unity government was announced.
In the Global Thinker podcast published by Foreign Policy, Wai Wai Nu and Matthew Smith warn that Myanmar’s democracy will be meaningless unless Muslims get a seat at the political table.
Where is Tunisian democracy five years after the Revolution? Marc Pierni sums up the remarkable accomplishments and new opportunities in Tunisia.
A publication by ODI sheds light on the need for adaptive donor programmes that recognise the political realities of development. Can development be done differently?
The start of 2016 has brought uncertainties on the Polish and Greek governments’ commitments to the rule of law. Hugo Dixon underlines the importance of the EU keeping its countries on a democratic path.
The new Journal of Democracy is out, with free access articles on Chinese and Singapore models, controlling corruption and the Ethiopian election of 2015.
Is direct democracy always a good solution? The Economist looks at the fairness of asking Dutch voters for an opinion on the 2,135-page agreement between the EU and Ukraine.
From 29-31 Jan, Utrecht University will host a New World Summit on Stateless Democracy. Academics and professionals from the field will discuss look at topics such as failures of democracy, stateless democracy and the future of democracy.
14th January 2016
A LA UNE
As the elections in Taiwan are approaching, massive campaigning and walkabouts will draw hundreds of thousands of supporters to the street. Here are 5 must know facts about the 2016 elections.
Following his electoral victory over main rival Sandra Torres in October’s presidential election in Guatemala, former TV comedian Jimmy Morales will be sworn in on 14thJanuary. Although he campaigned on a promise to fight graft, this article cautions that we should not expect any progress towards real democratisation.
Al Monitor wonders if Israel’s Democracy is in danger, following the adoption of a new transparency bill that tags Israeli associations that are mainly receiving their funding from foreign sources when they visit the Knesset or publish reports.
The study of data on the correlations between elections and net investment shows that holding free and fair elections can increase developing countries prosperity.
Are the laws published by the new Polish right-wing government a threat for democracy and the rule of law in the largest eastern EU member? Mark Nelson’s opinion on recent developments in Poland.
Are democracies more likely to blossom with the support of vibrant middle class? Do strong unions mean more democracy? Insights from Richard Kahlenberg.
Does the integration of nondemocratic regimes into the liberal international order lead them to become more democratic? Authoritarianism as a challenge for democracy explained by Christopher Walker.