Building Consensus to Move Democratic Initiatives in Honduras Forward

Leaders from seven major political parties in Honduras, as well as civil society groups, attended a dinner hosted by NDI and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) on August 11, 2015, to discuss how to advance important democracy initiatives in Honduras. The event was the first time the leaders had convened in two years.

Over the past three months, Hondurans have taken to the streets to call attention to corruption and impunity in response to the latest corruption scandal involving the embezzlement of $120 million from the Honduras Social Security Institute. Unrest has been noticeable in Honduras for years, particularly after a 2009 constitutional crisis culminated in a coup that removed President Manuel Zelaya from office. Although the 2013 presidential elections helped the office of the president regain a degree of legitimacy, democracy in Honduras continues to face significant challenges. The United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) recently sent missions to the country at the request of the Honduran government to facilitate a national dialogue in order to stabilize the unrest.

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Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show Made Politics Cool Again…and Young People Followed

Parazit co-host Kambiz Hosseini and The Daily Show host Jon Stewart on the set of The Daily Show  (Photo: Kambiz Hosseini).

Though the studio lights have dimmed for the last time on Jon Stewart’s tenure as host of The Daily Show, his brand of political satire -- which aimed to keep leaders accountable, the media honest and youth interested in government -- shines on through its immense success with young audiences at home and abroad. The Daily Show sparked a new era of political satire, a step beyond the traditional editorial cartoon, satirical magazine and occasional political joke on late-night television. In the United States, Stewart’s style of “fake news” revolutionized not only satire in (and of) the media, but how youth engage with politics.

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The Road Forward: Tunisia Provides an Example for Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa

Tunisian citizens protest the rise of the destabilizing trend of regionalism

Nearly five years after protests against former authoritarian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali began in December 2010, Tunisia has adopted a modern constitution and, for the first time, democratically elected a new legislature and president. Tunisia has been lauded as an inspirational -- though not untroubled -- democracy within the Middle East and North Africa region. To ensure the current security concerns and economic difficulties do not encourage undemocratic intervention in the process, it is important that the U.S. government and international community continue to support the new Tunisian government as it makes difficult choices.

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Cindy McCain Visits NDI in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Cindy McCain and NDI Resident Director Eve Thompson (right) meet with women political leaders in Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

On July 8, the National Democratic Institute’s team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had the pleasure of hosting Cindy McCain in its Kinshasha office. McCain, a businesswoman, philanthropist and humanitarian, is also the wife of U.S. Senator John McCain, who chairs NDI’s sister organization, the International Republican Institute. Mrs. McCain asked to meet with a group of Congolese women politicians to discuss their under-representation in the country’s government as well as the difficulties they face in efforts to participate successfully in the political process.

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Transparency Could Ease Decades-Long Democratic Erosion in Nicaragua

Poll monitors oversee the 2006 Nicaraguan elections.

Advances and reversals generally mark the trajectory of democratic development. But in the political history of Nicaragua over the last decade, there have been only reversals with next year’s elections likely to see the continued erosion of Nicaraguan democracy and consolidation of power by President Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional - FSLN). But there are voices advocating for greater pluralism. Opposition political parties are small but vocal, and different elements of civil society have advocated for democratic reforms. While their efforts have not yet yielded results, the Nicaraguan government still has the opportunity to move toward greater transparency in the polls before next year's presidential elections.

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Protest Parties: What Does a Pirate or Anarcho-Surrealist Do After Being Elected?

Jon Gnarr, in his official capacity as mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland. Gnarr, a sketch comedian, was elected in 2009 on satirical platform of providing free towels at public pools, a polar bear at the zoo and a drug-free parliament by 2020.

In the last decade, a proliferation of anti-establishment parties in the Euro-Atlantic region has led to increased numbers of protest candidates elected to local, national and European office. Protest parties reject mainstream politics and incumbency, opting instead for sensational campaigns that often advocate for a single issue. Pirates in the UK or anarcho-surrealists in Iceland make for interesting debates, but what happens when candidates who reject a system become part of it? Recent examples show that citizens will vote for protest candidates to highlight “elephant-in-the-room” issues, but in the long run candidates need to be able to deliver on critical issues to maintain support.

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Retreat or Revival: The State of Democracy in Asia

Officials open the polls in Indonesia in September 2004.

No single trend -- neither retreat nor revival -- defines the direction of democracy in Asia. We recently have seen a military coup, followed by a ban on political activity in Thailand; in Hong Kong, the government in Beijing has remained intransigent, insisting on its version of universal suffrage; and in Burma, progress toward political reform seems to have stalled as critical elections approach, although constitutional reform remains a possibility.

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A Student's Guide to NDI.org and DemWorks.org

Through the website of the National Democratic Institute NDI website, NDI.org, students have access to handbooks on political participation, public opinion polls from many countries, a global elections calendar, and press releases and stories about the Institute’s work around the world. In the publications section students can search by country or topic, such as citizen participation, debate, technology and marginalized groups.

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Nepal Earthquake: All NDI staff and immediate families safe and accounted for

Road fractured after Nepal earthquake. Credit: Krish Dulal

All NDI Nepal staff and their immediate families are safe and accounted for. Currently, we have 20 national staff members, two resident international staff and their dependents, and two visiting international consultants in-country. At the time of the quake, many of our staff members were in Dhulikel – about an hour away from Kathmandu – conducting a training program with parliamentarians and political leaders.

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Will there be a fourth democratic wave?

As the Cold War came to a close, renowned political scientist, professor and author, Francis Fukuyama, proclaimed the end of history. He said humankind had reached the endpoint of its “ideological evolution,” and Western liberal democracy had won out as the “final form of human government." At around the same time, another influential political scientist, Samuel P. Huntington wrote that the world was in the middle of a “third wave” of democratic expansion. But 23 years later, the third democratic wave has hit a wall. According to Larry Diamond, founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, the rapid democratic expansion, which began in the 1970s and continued until 2005, is now in recession.

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