China’s Disaffected Insiders

The CCP regime has lost support among three groups it should normally be able to count on: street-level police, retired military officers, and state employees who are drafted into stifling dissent on the part of their own relatives. 


The Real Lessons of the Interwar Years

Analogies with interwar Europe are often misdirected. In the 1920s and 1930s, regime breakdowns occurred in struggling new democracies, but established democratic systems exhibited remarkable endurance. 

PDF icon The Real Lessons of the Interwar Years

The Pipe Dream of Undemocratic Liberalism

A look at liberal democracy’s complex historical evolution shows that elite fantasies of liberalism without democracy are ill-founded. Authoritarian legacies and democratic deficits lie at the core of trends that threaten liberal rights.

PDF icon The Pipe Dream of Undemocratic Liberalism

The Rise of Referendums: Elite Strategy or Populist Weapon?

Political elites once held referendums to fend off challenges to European integration. More recently, Euroskeptic parties have employed referendums to batter down the walls of elite consensus. But the spread of referendums threatens to undermine the legitimacy of representative democracy.


The Rise of Referendums: Demystifying Direct Democracy

Plebiscites have grown less common in recent decades in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian countries, even as the use of referendums in democracies has expanded. Despite their many shortcomings, referendums are, on balance, a mechanism for strengthening democracy.


Tanzania: Shrinking Space and Opposition Protest

Since Tanzania’s 2015 elections, rising repression and opposition protest have displaced an older dynamic of comparatively restrained and unchallenged dominance by the ruling party. 


Turkmenistan: Grasping for Legitimacy

Turkmenistan’s authoritarian president Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov attempted to use sham democratic elections in February 2017 to bolster his legitimacy both at home and abroad. 


Central Asia’s Globalized Despots

A review of Dictators Without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia by Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw.


Election Watch

Reports on elections in Algeria, Armenia, the Bahamas, Bulgaria, the Gambia, Iran, Kosovo, Lesotho, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Serbia, South Korea, and Timor-Leste. 


Documents on Democracy

Prague Appeal for Democratic Renewal; excerpts from the inaugural address of French president Emmanuel Macron; excerpted remarks by Chilean politician and political scientist Sergio Bitar, recipient of the inaugural  Guillermo O’Donnell Democracy Award and Lecture-ship. 


News and Notes

NED’s Democracy Award; Launch of Haleh Esfandiari Forum; Conference on Human-Rights Scholarship; International Charlemagne Prize; Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928–2017); Giovanni Sartori (1924–2017); NED’s International Forum