The Split in Arab Culture

A powerful “salafist” public norm has taken root in the Arab world, becoming the main symbol of resistance to Westernization. At the same time, however, new cultural forces in the private domain are promoting a dynamic of secularization.


The Impact of the Economic Crisis: Why Democracies Survive

As an analysis of recent electoral results shows, the world’s emerging democracies are weathering the global economic crisis surprisingly well. Yet they remain under an even sharper threat from their own failures to deliver good governance.


The Impact of the Economic Crisis: From the G-8 to the G-20

The financial crisis did not deal a fatal blow to any democracies, but it did hasten an erosion of the influence of the West. In the future, the balance of power among competing regime types may be decided by the emerging-market democracies.


Latin America’s Growing Security Gap

Striking the right balance between freedom and security is hard, especially in Latin America. Hybrid forces combining military and police elements may be the best means for meeting security challenges without imperiling freedom.


Hong Kong’s Democrats Divide

For the first time ever in the history of Hong Kong, local democratic leaders and Chinese officials have forged a pact on limited democratic reforms. That may have marked a step forward for the cause of democracy in Hong Kong, but it has also led to a sharp split in the democratic camp.


Arab Islamist Parties: Losing on Purpose?

In most Arab countries, Islamist groups are the only ones with the popular support needed to win free and fair elections. Yet Islamist parties have shown an ambivalence about and in some cases even an aversion to seeking power via the ballot box.


Building Democracy While Building Peace

Why are peacebuilding operations rarely able to establish postconflict democracies, and are there other strategies that would yield more successes?


Constraining Government Power in Africa

African politics is often characterized as a realm of “informality,” but formal rules and institutions actually loom large, especially with regard to overweening executive power and the reforms that may help to rein it in.


Latin America: A Surge to the Center

The left-right ideological divide has begun to narrow in Latin America as citizens and leaders increasingly choose a pragmatic approach to politics and embrace the rules of the democratic game.

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Latin America: A Setback for Chávez

Hugo Chávez has been running a bounded competitive-authoritarian regime for some time, but its ability to compete is now slipping. Will this tend to make it less authoritarian—or even more so?


Latin America: Colombia After Uribe

Often thought of as a “nascent” democracy, Colombia actually has longstanding democratic institutions. In 2010, they were effective in determining who would succeed a highly popular, two-term president.


Two Essays on China’s Quest for Democracy

Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, is best known for his eloquent and incisive essays. Two of them are featured here: “Can It Be That the Chinese People Deserve Only ‘Party-Led Democracy’?” and “Changing the Regime by Changing Society.”

PDF icon Two Essays on China’s Quest for Democracy

Books in Review: A Russian Liberal’s Lament

A review of Lonely Power: Why Russia Has Failed to Become the West and the West Is Weary of Russia by Lilia Shevtsova.


Election Watch

Reports on recent elections in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burma, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea, Haiti, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova, Tanzania, Tonga, Venezuela.


Documents on Democracy, January 2011

  • Portions of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's closing statement at his fraud trial on 10 November 2010. This was the second trial for Khodorkovsky, the former head of the Yukos oil company, who was sentenced in May 2005 to nine years in prison for fraud.
  • Excerpts from the "Casablanca Call for Democracy and Human Rights," signed by participants (including civil society activists, politicians, and academics) of the conference "The Future of Democracy and Human Rights in the Arab World," held in Casablanca on 22–23 October 2010.
  • Portions of an October 2010 open letter written by two dozen former officials of the People's Republic of China to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress demanding an end to censorship.
  • Excerpts from the 30 September 2010 United Nations resolution establishing the first-ever special rapporteur on freedom of association and assembly.