Is Democracy in Decline?

As the Journal of Democracy celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary, there are serious reasons to worry about the state of democracy.

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Why Is Democracy Performing So Poorly?

The failure to establish modern, well-governed states has been the Achilles heel of recent democratic transitions, as democratization without state modernization can actually lower the quality of governance.


The Weight of Geopolitics

Can democracy prosper when democratic countries are in geopolitical retreat? History cautions against the notion that democracy will inevitably prevail.


Crisis and Transition, But Not Decline

Rather than being in decline, democracy is in crisis due to the gap between the democratic ideal and how democracy is actually being practiced. It will survive by transitioning into a new, as yet unknown, form.


The Myth of Democratic Recession

In contrast to the conventional wisdom that democracy is in retreat worldwide, the evidence tells a different story: The state of global democracy has been stable over the last decade and is actually better than it was in the 1990s.

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Democracy Aid at 25: Time to Choose

From small beginnings, democracy aid has become a sizeable enterprise. Today it is beset by problems, however, as it must operate in a less friendly environment. Hard decisions will need to be made to maintain its relevance.


Has the Door Closed on Arab Democracy?

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, democracy in the Arab world seems farther away today than at any point in the last 25 years. If it is to ever arrive, it will likely be through a more evolutionary and elite-driven process.


The Splintering of Postcommunist Europe

Institutional choices matter in the postcommunist world, but geopolitical and civilizational boundaries still set the horizons of political possibility.


Africa’s Waning Democratic Committment

Since the mid-2000s, democratization in Africa has faltered, in large part due to its elites’ waning commitment to democracy.


Cross-Currents in Latin America

A survey of the region yields a patchwork result, with democratic governance faring well in some countries, at a standstill in others, and in the most worrisome cases actively eroding.


India, Sri Lanka, and the Majoritarian Danger

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?


Facing Up to the Democratic Recession

Democracy has been in a global recession for most of the last decade, and committed and resourceful engagement by the established democracies is necessary to reverse this trend.

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China’s Challenge

As China’s power grows, will it seek to remake the world in its authoritarian image? For now, China shows no such missionary impulse, but the ways in which it pursues its interests can still threaten the fate of democracy.


Russia’s Political System: Imperialism and Decay

The system of personalized power that has long ruled Russia now faces a new crisis, and it is trying to avert decay through the reassertion of empire.


Michnik’s Homage to Havel

A review of An Uncanny Era: Conversations Between Václav Havel and Adam Michnik, translated and edited by Elzbieta Matynia.

Election Watch

Reports on elections in Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Liberia, Mauritius, Moldova, Mozambique, Namibia, Romania, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Uruguay.


Documents on Democracy

  • Excerpts from a November 15 letter by the Hong Kong Federation of Students (who were among the leaders of the "Umbrella Revolution") to Chinese premier Li Keqiang, inviting him to visit Hong Kong.
  • Excerpts from the 310-page campaign manifesto of former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, who was proclaimed Afghanistan’s new president on September 21 after lengthy negotiations and an audit of the June 14 presidential runoff.
  • Excerpts from the third annual Carlos Cardoso Memorial Lecture given by Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais on November 4 at Johannesburg’s Wits University. Marques, head of the anticorruption website Maka Angola, is known for his courageous investigative reporting on conflict,the diamond industry, and corruption in Angola. 
  • An October 10 open letter sent by a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates and leading human-rights organizations to the United Nations and the European Union calling for the immediate release of human-rights activist Liu Xiaobo, currently the only Nobel laureate in prison.