Democracy’s "Near Misses"

October 2018

What factors help a democracy to survive a crisis? A study of cases in which democracy suffered a steep decline, yet ultimately recovered and endured, offers new insights. In moments of crisis, unelected and nonmajoritarian actors can play a pivotal role.

A Win for Democracy in Sri Lanka

January 2016
The surprising electoral defeat of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in January 2015 was reinforced by his failed comeback in August parliamentary elections.

Documents on Democracy

April 2015

Excerpts from:

  • newly elected Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena’s campaign manifesto, “A Compassionate Maithri Governance: A Stable Country,”
  • Newsweek Polska's interview with Boris Nemtsov just hours before he was gunned down in Moscow on February 27,
  • opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's statement of innocence issued after the Federal Court of Malaysia upheld his sodomy conviction and 5-year sentence on February 10, and
  • a statement issued by Maina Kiai, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, at the conclusion of his visit to Kazakhstan on January 27.


India, Sri Lanka, and the Majoritarian Danger

January 2015

Does the electoral victory of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party signal that the world’s largest democracy may be following Sri Lanka toward a politics where the will of the majority is exalted above minority rights?

Shifting Tides in South Asia: Sri Lanka’s Postwar Descent

April 2014
With the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in a 26-year civil war, Sri Lanka had a chance for genuine reconciliation, but that chance is being 
squandered by the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Documents on Democracy

April 2013
  • The “Declaration of Free Citizens” published by Vietnamese bloggers in January 2013.
  • Excerpts from Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s January 2013 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
  • Excerpts from a pastoral letter issued by the Anglican bishop of the Diocese of Colombo, deploring the state of the rule of law in Sri Lanka.
  • Excerpts from the inaugural address of South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of military strongman President Park Chung-hee (1961–79).
  • Excerpts from a February 2013 speech given by Shin Dong-hyuk—who was born and raised in a North Korean prison camp and managed to escape in 2005—at the Fifth Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.

Book Review: Discovering the “State-Nation”

April 2012

A review of Crafting State-Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies by Alfred Stepan, Juan J. Linz, and Yogendra Yadav.

Documents on Democracy: October 2011

October 2011
  • Excerpts from a statement issued by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and 35 other Egyptian human-rights organizations condemning the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' campaign against the country's civil society organizations and human-rights groups.
  • Excerpt from a statement by two top EU officials on the August 5 arrest of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko during her trial for "abuse of power."
  • Portions of a June 15 address given by Mongolian president Tsakhia Elbegdorj at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on the eve of Mongolia's assumption of the presidency of the Community of Democracies.
  • Excerpts from the OAS resolution "Promotion of the Rights to Freedom of Assembly and of Association in the Americas," passed on June 7.
  • Excerpts from a speech given by the former president of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, noting the country's difficulties in achieving peace.
  • Excerpts from the inaugural address of Dr. Lobsang Sangay, the new prime minister (Kalon Tripa) of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India.

Sri Lanka: From Turmoil to Dynasty

April 2011

Having only recently emerged from a prolonged and remarkably bitter civil war, Sri Lanka is now slipping steadily under the hardening authoritarian control of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family.

The Democracy Barometers (Part II): Surveying South Asia

January 2008

While the people of South Asia, especially those with higher levels of education and exposure to the media, prefer democracy to authoritarianism, they are willing to relax some of the requirements of liberal democracy.