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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Best DemWorks Posts of 2018

NDI’s staff in DC, Silicon Valley, and 50+ offices around the world represent a deep repository of expertise and practical experience in the areas of democracy and international affairs. We promise to keep bringing you their insights and analysis through this platform, and to increasingly include the voices expert guest bloggers from our partner organizations. Here’s the list of DemWorks’ most read blog posts from 2018.

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Happy Holidays: A Look Back at 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, I want to express my gratitude for your support in my transition back to NDI as its president – a true homecoming. Democracy faces serious challenges with the rise of new technologies and the resurgence of authoritarianism. While some may fall into fatalism, that is not NDI's way, and it is unworthy of those who have fought for freedom and democracy over many decades. NDI will continue to meet this moment head-on with innovative approaches that maximize potential opportunities as well as mitigate challenges, just as we did throughout 2018.

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The work of democracy is never “over”

As part of a series of events organized by NDI’s Jordan youth political participation program Ana Usharek and the Al-Hayat Center for Civil Society Development – NDI’s local partner – 60 Ana Usharek students participated in a networking and coalition-building event on December 5 with 43 local civil society organizations in Zarqa, Jordan. Photo Credit: NDI Jordan

It is important to remember the task of safeguarding democracy at home, and encouraging and supporting democracy abroad is an unending one. There is no such thing as a fully consolidated democracy. Various shocks and strains, whether internal or exogenous, will constantly test the resilience of democratic institutions. Likewise, there is no such thing as a “graduated” emerging democracy.

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