Robert Benjamin
Robert Benjamin
Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe
Washington, DC

Robert Benjamin directs the National Democratic Institute's programs in Central and Eastern Europe. In this role, he oversees in-country and regional programs in legislative strengthening, political party development, civil society development, election processes, and women, youth and ethnic minority political participation. He has also contributed to democracy programs in Asia, Latin America, North Africa and West Africa. Mr. Benjamin has worked at NDI since 1993. He holds a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

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Why Reactor’s Gender Equality Work Matters for Macedonia’s Democracy

Macedonia became independent when Yugoslavia disintegrated 25 years ago. Many thought that Macedonia might not survive as a new country. It was in a tough neighborhood, the economy was in tatters, it had little experience with democracy, and there was a strong undercurrent of tension between the majority Macedonian population and a large Albanian minority.

But Macedonia did overcome those early challenges, got to work on its new democracy, and as a result it has progressed toward European Union and NATO membership.

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New Politics in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s journey from the Dayton Peace Accords to sustainable democracy has rested on the notion that ethnic power-sharing and highly decentralized government would, over time, give way to more integrated forms of government and politics. Ethnic interests, though still primary, would cease to be the exclusive basis on which power is won and exercised. Other forms of association – environmental, business, labor, students and pensioners, etc. – transcending ethnicity would take their place in the political system.

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Beyond the ballot box, election monitors work to improve health care in Albania

New democracies often get stuck when fair elections, active civic groups, independent media, party competition and constitutional checks on power still don’t produce better government. Instead, corruption, political conflict and other problems can fester and upend the notion that democracy does in fact make life better.

This is the situation in Albania, which ditched communism in 1990. While making huge strides in the 25 years since, Albania nonetheless is mired in bad politics that leaves people wondering if its new democratic order can make government function as it should.

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