In his final essay as co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, Larry Diamond calls this moment the darkest for freedom in a half-century. Whether democracy regains its footing will depend on how democratic leaders and citizens respond to emboldened authoritarians and divisions within their own societies.
This paper stands at the intersection of two literatures—on partisan polarization and on democratic deliberation—that have not had much connection with one another. If readers find some of the results surprising, the authors have had the same reaction. In this paper we describe these results and our approach to explaining them.
The Project on Middle East Political Science partnered with Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law and its Global Digital Policy Incubator for an innovative two week online seminar to explore the issues surrounding digital activism and authoritarianism. This workshop was built upon more than a decade of our collaboration on issues related to the internet and politics in the Middle East, beginning in 2011 with a series of workshops in the “Blogs and Bullets” project supported by the United States Institute for Peace and the PeaceTech Lab. This new collaboration brought together more than a dozen scholars and practitioners with deep experience in digital policy and activism, some focused on the Middle East and others offering a global and comparative perspective. POMEPS STUDIES 43 collects essays from that workshop, shaped by two weeks of public and private discussion.
Since 2006, democracy in the world has been trending downward. A number of liberal democracies are becoming less liberal, and authoritarian regimes are developing more repressive tendencies. Democracies are dying at the hands of elected authoritarian populists who neuter or take over the institutions meant to constrain them. Changes in the international environment, as well as technological developments and growing inequality, have contributed to this democratic slump.
Once hailed as a great force for human empowerment and liberation, social media and related digital tools have rapidly come to be regarded as a major threat to democratic stability and human freedom. Based on a deeply problematic business model, social-media platforms are showing the potential to exacerbate hazards that range from authoritarian privacy violations to partisan echo chambers to the spread of malign disinformation. Authoritarian forces are also profiting from a series of other advances in digital technology, notably including the revolution in artificial intelligence (AI).
This report urges policymakers, in both government and the private sector, to act immediately in order to protect the integrity and independence of U.S. elections, particularly in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, and recommends a number of actions in order to do so. This report was distributed at the launch of the new Cyber Policy Center on June 6th, 2019.
For three and a half decades following the end of the Maoist era, China adhered to Deng Xiaoping’s policies of “reform and opening to the outside world” and “peaceful development.” After Deng retired as paramount leader, these principles continued to guide China’s international behavior in the leadership eras of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.
A year into the Trump Administration, the health and stability of American democracy remain an open question. At a time when almost four in 10 Americans say they are not satisfied with the way democracy is working in the U.S., there is ample reason to ask how committed the American people are to our democracy.
Over the past decade, illiberal powers have become emboldened and gained influence within the global arena. Leading authoritarian countries—including China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela—have developed new tools and strategies to contain the spread of democracy and challenge the liberal international political order.
In an article in "The American Interest", Larry Diamond advocates electoral system reforms, including top-two and ranked-choice voting, as a potential antidote to partisan polarization. Such reforms could decrease the likelihood of extremist candidates, could increase the potential for third-party candidates, and could ensure fewer wasted votes.
This book evaluates the global status and prospects of democracy, with an emphasis on the quality of democratic institutions and the effectiveness of governance as key conditions for stable democracy. Bringing together a wide range of the author’s work over the past three decades, it advances a framework for assessing the quality of democracy and it analyzes alternative measures of democracy.
In an article published in the January 2014 issue of Current History, Larry Diamond urges civil society and policy leaders to stay optimistic about democracy’s future, arguing that its historical moment has not passed. Despite recent examples of democratic breakdowns, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, Diamond claims that values are shifting, giving way to an empowered and vocal citizenry, which may pressure governments toward more accountable and democratic forms of rule.
New Challenges for Maturing Democracies in Korea and Taiwan takes a creative and comparative view of the new challenges and dynamics confronting these maturing democracies.
Numerous works deal with political change in the two societies individually, but few adopt a comparative approach—and most focus mainly on the emergence of democracy or the politics of the democratization processes. This book, utilizing a broad, interdisciplinary approach, pays careful attention to post-democratization phenomena and the key issues that arise in maturing democracies.
“As two paradigmatic cases of democratic development, Korea and Taiwan are often seen as exemplars of both modernization and democratization. This volume both contributes and moves beyond this focus, looking forward to assess the maturation but also the risks to democracy in both countries. With its strong comparative focus and a sober appreciation of how hard it can be not to just to attain but to sustain democracy, it represents a major contribution."
— Benjamin Reilly, Dean, Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, Murdoch University
What emerges is a picture of two evolving democracies, now secure, but still imperfect and at times disappointing to their citizens—a common feature and challenge of democratic maturation. The book demonstrates that it will fall to the elected political leaders of these two countries to rise above narrow and immediate party interests to mobilize consensus and craft policies that will guide the structural adaptation and reinvigoration of the society and economy in an era that clearly presents for both countries not only steep challenges but also new opportunities.
Larry Diamond is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford. He is also Director of Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Gi-Wook Shin is Director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, the Tong Yang, Korea Foundation, and Korea Stanford Alumni Chair of Korean Studies, and Professor of Sociology at Stanford.
This book originated in a conference on "Liberation Technology in Authoritarian Regimes" held at Stanford University in Oct. 2010.
The revolutions sweeping the Middle East provide dramatic evidence of the role that technology plays in mobilizing citizen protest and upending seemingly invulnerable authoritarian regimes. A grainy cell phone video of a Tunisian street vendor’s self-immolation helped spark the massive protests that toppled longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and Egypt’s "Facebook revolution" forced the ruling regime out of power and into exile.
(excerpt) During democratization’s “third wave,” democracy ceased being a mostly Western phenomenon and “went global.” When the third wave began in 1974, the world had only about 40 democracies, and only a few of them lay outside the West. By the time the Journal of Democracy be- gan publishing in 1990, there were 76 electoral democracies (accounting for slightly less than half the world’s independent states). By 1995, that number had shot up to 117—three in every five states.
The battle for accountability and good governance-and thus sustainable democracy and development-will not be won by foreign actors or pressures. The most that international actors can do is to empower and partner with advocates of good governance-which includes freedom, human rights, accountability, and a rule of law. But throughout the emerging market countries, societies are organizing and demanding for these goals.
U.S. foreign assistance—the rationale behind it, the amount we give, its orientation and organization—has changed dramatically in the last decade. These changes have challenged its efficacy but have also created new opportunities to modernize U.S. foreign assistance. The importance of supporting development and reducing poverty abroad are understood now as never before to be both moral imperatives and prerequisites for sustained U.S. national security.