Today marks International Democracy Day 2019.
From the world’s oldest to youngest democracies, this is a day to celebrate the promise and resilience of democracy around the world. Despite real headwinds that have dominated the headlines, political participation in fact is up, reflecting the continued potency of the democratic idea. From Managua to Moscow, Algiers to Istanbul, and Khartoum to Hong Kong, people of all races, religions, cultures, and backgrounds are demanding their voices be heard, their rights and dignity be protected, and that justice prevail.
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a moment of triumph for the cause of freedom and democracy. But history never ends. Competition between autocracy and democracy will forever continue, as will the siren song of strongmen and demagogues who promise easy solutions to difficult problems and prioritize the glory of the state over human dignity.
We must meet the challenges facing democracy today with renewed creativity, commitment, and joint effort. We must not allow democracy to fall victim to fatalism and doubt. Or complacency. Democracy is and always has been a work in progress, requiring what John F. Kennedy called an “untiring effort.”
Over its three-decade history, NDI has never tired. Rather, NDI continues to be inspired everyday to work with scores of democratic partners worldwide who struggle to realize the promise of democracy even in the most challenging of conditions. And we continue to do so the way we always have: by sharing diverse global experiences, building a community of democratic practice, and standing in solidarity with all those who cherish democracy as a bulwark against autocracy, intolerance and corruption.
Over the past two months, through its DemWorks video and podcast series, NDI has highlighted the vital role of youth in the strength and resilience of democracy. Around the world, young people are stepping forward to demand change and the right to engage in political affairs. They are breathing renewed life into democratic systems – when space is created for them to do so.
So on this International Democracy Day, as we celebrate the brave civil society advocates, journalists, parliamentarians, politicians and average citizens who work daily to help democracies thrive and deliver, NDI notes with pride its work in particular with youth worldwide to safeguard democracy’s future.
I wish you all a happy International Democracy Day 2019.
National Democratic Institute