How can democracies remain committed to their values amid rising authoritarianism?

In this DemWorks crossover episode, NDI President Derek Mitchell talks to Chris Walker and Shanthi Kalathil from the National Endowment for Democracy (the NED) about the rise of authoritarian influence around the world. With a focus on China, they discuss how China’s Communist Party has survived since Tiananmen Square, the One Belt, One Road initiative, and the hard questions China’s rise poses to open societies’ most fundamental principles.

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Does the spirit of Tiananmen live on in China?

For NDI President Derek Mitchell, observing the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in person 30 years ago was a turning point in his life. There was never a question that – in that moment, at that time, in that place – he was witnessing something historic, a revolution in action.

Looking back at the footage he captured with his video camera, Derek reflects on the students, and the spirit, of Tiananmen.

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How is Ukraine strengthening its democracy in the face of foreign aggression?

In this second episode of the DemWorks podcast, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, the deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration in Ukraine, talks to NDI President Derek Mitchell about her decision to run for parliament in the wake of the Ukrainian revolution, confrontations with misogyny early in her career, and her fight to open up the Ukrainian military to female service members.

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How are journalists fighting back against authoritarianism in the Philippines?

NDI 2017 Democracy Award recipients with (right to left) Secretary Madeleine Albright, Maria Ressa (Rappler), Margo Gontar (StopFake.org), Dr. Phil Howard (Oxford Internet Institute). Photo credit: Margot Schulman

Celebrating “women risk takers,” this video focuses on #DemocracyHero Maria Ressa, a veteran journalist and the CEO of Rappler, the leading independent online news network in the Philippines that has been at the forefront of combating disinformation and exposing human rights abuses under the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. For their critical reporting, Maria and her fellow independent journalists have been indicted multiple times on questionable charges. Maria herself has been arrested twice. Maria’s courage has been globally recognized. Among many accolades, she is a recipient of NDI’s Democracy Award in 2017, and TIME magazine’s Person of the Year award in 2018.

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Are Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Signaling A Move Toward Democracy?

As Yemen’s tragic war – fueled by a regional rivalry between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on one side and Iran on the other – drags on, the antagonists in the conflict have been stubbornly resistant to the efforts of U.N. negotiators to broker compromise and unwilling to make the first major steps toward peace. Yet, there is a curious and slightly hopeful political soap opera playing out in plain sight. The internationally recognized government of Abd Rabo Mansur Hadi and the Houthi rebels (also known by their formal name, Ansar Allah) are pursuing separate but concurrent strategies to increase their international legitimacy by reinvigorating Yemen’s parliament. Ansar Allah has also released a groundbreaking policy document that may show signs of a new appreciation for democratic processes. By seeking to achieve a legal quorum in parliament and drafting a series of policy proposals that could be used by the public to hold their regime accountable, the Houthis are demonstrating a surprising affinity to some of the forms of democracy. Their commitment to the substance of democracy is yet to be proven.

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One Person Can Make a Difference: Success Stories of Roma Advocacy in Slovakia

Three Roma activists in eastern Slovakia: Rudolf, Stefan and Igor

The Roma, whose numbers are estimated at more than 10 million, make up Europe’s largest minority group, and are also the largest socially and economically-marginalized population. Across the continent, Roma face systemic discrimination in employment, education, healthcare and housing. This leads to poor quality of life, lower life spans, higher school delinquency rates and higher unemployment rates in comparison to their fellow non-Roma citizens. According to official EU statistics, anywhere from 33 to 58 percent of Roma children will experience segregation in public schools and, on average, only 12 percent of Roma between the ages of 18 and 24 will have completed high school.

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Not Over Yet: Latest Wave of Middle East Protests A Reminder of 2011’s Unmet Demands

Photo: Ramzi Boudina/Reuters/Adobe Stock

Recent images of hundreds of thousands of citizens marching peacefullythrough Algerian streets demanding the resignation of their autocratic ruler offer an unmistakable and powerful analog to the 2011 Arab uprisings. The ailing and out-of-touch 82-year-old Algerian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika seeking a fifth presidential term in a country where 70 percent of the population is under age 30 brings to mind an oblivious Hosni Mubarak tragically misreading the seriousness of the first gatherings against him in Tahrir Square. Like Mubarak, who first tried to placate young Egyptians by promising to step down “later,” Bouteflika’s advisors beggar belief by claiming that their man—rarely seen in public over the past five years—will step down after he is “reelected” yet again.

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Young Voices, Old Problems: The Case of North Macedonia

The author with university students

Diogenes the Cynic once remarked that the “foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” More than 2,300 years later, cynical was an accurate description of the 27 teenagers who were rolling their eyes at me in an overheated classroom. My lesson that day was on the importance of civic engagement, but these young people had been taught their entire lives that young voices do not matter in politics.  
 

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The End of Pessimism? Democracy Makes a Resurgence

Youth from Albania develop action plans to address issues in their local communities during an NDI skills-building workshop in Durres on June 29, 2018. Credit: Dana Radojevic

It is easy to get lost in the details of one’s work. This happens in every field ranging from the neverending rounds made by a nurse to the countless strokes of an artist’s paintbrush. Supporting democracy and good governance is no different – thousands of dedicated activists across the world spend their days, nights and weekends lost in paperwork, meetings and strategy sessions, working to create a more inclusive, just and democratic world.

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