Pat Merloe
Pat Merloe
senior associate and director of electoral programs
Washington, DC

Pat Merloe is a senior associate and the director of electoral programs at the National Democratic Institute, where, since 1993, he has participated in programs in more than 60 countries. He has over 30 years of experience in promoting citizen empowerment, human rights and governmental accountability.

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The Role of Citizens in Democracy

Having just voted for the presidential elections in July 2014, voters in Jakarta’s Senin district show their inked fingers. Photo by Telibert Laoc

Sovereignty resides in and flows from the people of a country. They have a collective right to choose their governmental, political and electoral systems as an aspect of self-determination. The authority of government derives from the will of the people in their choice of these systems, and the people have a right to take part in their government – including through genuine elections to determine who is to legitimately occupy governmental offices.

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Venezuela, Burma, Burkina Faso: Connect the Democratic Dots…

A Burmese anti-government protest in front of the Petronas Twin Towers. Photo credit: Off2riorob CC BY

In the four weeks between November 8 and December 6, 2015, the peoples of Myanmar (Burma), Burkina Faso and Venezuela delivered surprises: resounding defeats to military rule, strongman domination and populist authoritarianism. These bright spots are the consequence of perseverance by democratic activists in the face of repression. They also highlight the importance of elections as a peaceful means for people to bring about change.

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Facing “Democratic Recession” Requires Democratic Resolve

Recent articles by Charles Lane in the Washington Post, Thomas Friedman in the New York Times and Larry Diamond in the Journal of Democracy agree that the lack of a significant increase in the number of democracies and the measured deterioration of freedoms since 2006 means we are in a global democratic recession. They agree that what the U.S. and other democracies do will make a difference in how the recession develops. In effect, they posit that democratic resolve is being tested – both concerning the state of domestic democracy and democracy's role in international affairs. They are right about that.

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