Lebanese Students Tackle Road Repair

Breakout group discusses the best way to approach their local municipality to address road repair.

In Lebanon, which is surrounded by countries in crisis, real power is held at the local level. The national government is trusted to protect borders and provide security, but it is the local municipality that largely provides basic services. Yet understanding how municipalities work is a challenge in Lebanon. Budgets are not made public and municipal websites are nonexistent, even in Beirut. Political parties hold power and corruption can be systemic. Youth in Lebanon do not have much opportunity in school to learn about democracy, the role of municipalities, or how they can be involved in governance. Determining how to have an impact can be difficult when the political system is so opaque. To help address this problem, NDI has been working for several years to empower youth and women to play a greater role in politics. The NDI team in Lebanon is working with local partners, such as NABAD, to provide basic training on how to impact political decisions at the municipal level. Hundreds of youth have already been trained and some have even run and been elected to office.

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Supporting Democracies that are Resilient to Violent Conflict

NDI marks International Day of Peace by launching a blog series on supporting democratic resilience to violent conflict. Pictured above, Zambian youth leaders meet with Martin Luther King III at an NDI-sponsored event to provide young leaders with anti-violence training and a platform on which to speak out against electoral violence. 

A key goal of democratization is peaceful politics. Political battles may be inevitable, but in stable democracies they are not waged by armed groups, but through institutions such as elections, parliaments, the media, and civil society organizations. Through its focus on peace, security, and democratic resilience, NDI helps democratic actors recover from violent conflict and manage the myriad of shocks and stressors that threaten to tip fragile democracies into violence. This blog post is the first in a series marking the International Day of Peace on September 21 that will highlight NDI’s approaches to supporting resilient democracies.

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Who's #TweetTalking About Tunisia and Democracy?

Just weeks before the annual Concordia Summit in New York, NY on September 19th and 20th, the National Democratic Institute and Concordia partnered to host a TweetTalk as an extension of the panel, “Helping Democracy Deliver: Tunisia as an Example of Economic and Political Transition.” Like the panel, the TweetTalk aimed to explore themes like extremist activity in Libya as a threat to Tunisian progress, and whether decentralization can address regional inequalities.

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International Leaders from Over 100 Countries to Observe Democratic National Convention

Philadelphia skyline at night. Credit: Flickr user Tyler Sprague (CC BY-NC)

Every four years NDI has the honor of hosting the International Leaders Forum (#ILF2016) -- a week-long series of non-partisan events for international leaders organized around the Democratic National Convention. The convention is held by the U.S. Democratic Party to nominate a presidential and vice presidential candidate. The Forum -- held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this year -- carries on NDI’s tradition of bringing together international leaders to experience the convention and to learn about the U.S. political system. Nearly 400 current and former heads of government, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, and leaders of political parties from over 100 countries will participate.

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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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Why the SOTU Made Me Proud to Work in Democracy Assistance

Caption: President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (left) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (right), delivers his eighth and final State of the Union (SOTU) address. In addition to listing his policy goals and accomplishments, the President provided a counter-narrative to hyperbolic election-year rhetoric and a reminder of the strength and resiliency of America’s democratic political system.

As a politics nerd, there was no question that I would spend Tuesday night on my couch, listening to the State of the Union (SOTU) address. As someone who has made a career in democracy assistance, the speech held even greater significance: it was an example of democracy in progress.

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An Inclusive Process to Redesign NDI.org

This Wayback Machine screenshot shows NDI’s original website from February 22, 1997. We’ve come a long way! Click here to explore the evolution of NDI’s website.

NDI launched a project to redesign its website this week. The redesign presents an exciting opportunity to put a fresh face on NDI's work, while preserving the depth of content that makes NDI.org such a valuable resource. In keeping with NDI's values and in the interest of meeting your needs, we hope to make this process as open and inclusive as possible...but we need your help!

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Best DemWorks Posts of 2015

Thank you for coming along on NDI’s journey into blogging. Since the DemWorks blog launched in February 2015, we have published over 100 posts and reached 57,000 users in 177 countries around the world. More than 400 of you were gracious enough to let us into your email inboxes through the new subscription feature, which was launched in October. While NDI is not a media organization, we have the world’s deepest pool of democracy experts. We hope you have enjoyed hearing our insights and will join us again in 2016. Please subscribe! Without further ado, here’s my list of the top blog posts from 2015.

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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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Tunisia’s Democratic Transition Through the Lense of Four Prominent Advocates

This year, at its annual Democracy Award Dinner to be held on Tuesday, November 10, in Washington, D.C., NDI will honor Tunisia’s democratic transition through the lense of four Tunisians who represent its government, parliament and civil society. The Democracy Award, NDI’s highest honor, is presented annually to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to democracy and human rights.

Tunisians Yassine Brahim, Rafik Halouani, Wafa Makhlouf and Sayida Ounissi have been, among others, at the forefront of efforts to advance the democratic transition in their country, reflecting a new generation of democratic leaders. It is leaders from civil society, political parties and government, like those honored with this year’s Democracy Award, who are turning the promise of the Tunisian revolution into real improvement in the daily lives of citizens and make democracy succeed.

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