International electoral espionage is bigger than one election, one person and one country. It is also bigger than elections themselves. It is a direct threat to our democracy and to other countries around the globe.
On January 9th and 10th, the National Democratic Institute hosted the 21st Century Parties Conference in Brussels, Belgium. Party experts and assistance providers convened to discuss three important issues many parties struggle with around the globe: inclusion and citizen relations, ideology, and political party finance. The conversation was framed around the idea that democracy is a process, not an end goal. As former Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, Pedro Sánchez pointed out, “Democracy is always an unfinished building, it is always a work in progress….and we should see it as something that needs to evolve.” The following are outcomes from each of the three challenges discussed:
Art? You mean music, street theater, dance, visual art or radio dramas?
The Civic Update is a production of NDI’s Citizen Participation Team which highlights innovative practices, approaches and lessons from NDI programs. The January 2017 video edition, Art for Campaigning, focuses on how NDI has supported local partners to use art as part of their organizing. It includes examples from the Central African Republic, Guatemala, Kosovo, Macedonia, Nepal and Nigeria.
Ferdos Majeed was selected the first Andi Parhamovich Fellow in 2008. Ferdos worked with closely with Andi in Iraq so her selection was a fitting tribute.
January 17th, 2017, marks the 10th anniversary of the death of NDI Baghdad employee Andi Parhamovich and three security personnel during an ambush in Baghdad, Iraq. While there is no way to adequately respond to such a tragedy, the Parhamovich family hoped to find a way to continue one of Andi’s passions: increasing women’s participation in politics. The Andi Parhamovich Fellowship was created so that young women from all parts of the world would be able to take advantage of resources and connections in Washington D.C. that they could then take home to their countries and move forward Andi’s goals.
At the OGP Summit in Paris, NDI President Ken Wollack joins legislative and civil society leaders from Chile, Colombia, Estonia, Serbia, and South Africa to discuss the role of legislatures in OGP.
Since its launch in 2011, many have urged the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to expand beyond narrow definitions of the term "government." Legislators, mayors, and others argued that OGP’s transformational potential was tied in part to its ability to accommodate different branches and levels of government -- not only the executive, as is the case in many member countries. A truly open government includes an accountable executive branch, trusted legislatures, and responsive governance at all levels. This was an ambitious vision, but many argued that OGP’s ability to deliver better democracy and better governance was tied to its continued growth and expansion. The OGP Summit in Paris, which took place last month and convened hundreds of open government champions and activists from around the world, clearly indicated that OGP is beginning to deliver on this ambitious agenda.
For our bipartisan dinner, we developed a video compilation, which asked our partners one single, powerful question: “What does democracy mean to you?” The video responses we collected included both a one word answer and a 15 second explanation on the meaning of democracy. The result was amazing.
In the past year, the DemWorks blog has become an established platform for sharing ideas on democratic development around the world. Since the DemWorks blog launched in February 2015, we have published over 159 posts and reached 108,000 users in 198 countries around the world. Here’s the list of the most-read blog posts and series from 2016.
Social media and the Internet have had a drastic effect on the surprise results of yesterday’s election in the United States, driving the spread of information—and misinformation—at times bringing voters together and, perhaps more often, pushing them apart. As the spotlight shifts off of the U.S. in the aftermath of November 8, it’s important to recognize that this is not a uniquely American trend. More than half of Internet users now report using social media as a primary source of news, according to a study across 26 countries, and more than one quarter call it their main news source. In developing countries where reliable news sources are more limited, those numbers may be even higher. As reliance on social media and the Internet for news and information rises exponentially, political discourse is also rapidly moving online. A free and open Internet, where citizens can engage in fair dialogue and access accurate information, is thus critical to modern democracy and human rights.
Citizens ask questions of candidates during NDI-supported senate debates in Liberia during the 2005 elections. Credit: Jim Della-Giacoma
Can there be peace without the United Nations? Maybe. Resilient democracies might also exist without direct intervention from international organizations. But given that NDI’s Resilient Democracy blog series was launched on the UN International Day of Peace, it would be useful to consider the role of international organizations and the evolving ideas they are promoting about sustaining peace and peaceful societies. Connecting to the UN’s macro thinking could strengthen NDI’s micro-level work.
The outcomes of the June 23 Brexit vote and the October 2 referendum on the peace deal in Colombia raised questions about voting and political participation: How could something so unanticipated happen? Would people lose faith in democracy? Could we be similarly blindsided in the United States in November? Should we even vote at all?