By Jennifer Raymond Dresden, Ph.D.
Today, Sierra Leoneans headed to the polls for the fifth time since the country returned to multiparty elections in the 1990s. The incumbent, Ernest Bai Koroma, of the All People’s Congress (APC) is constitutionally barred from running for a third term, so one way or another the country is about to get a new president.
By Aleksandra Zaytseva
On Monday, January 29th, two big announcements came out of Washington. First, the U.S. Treasury Department released a “name and shame” list of 210 Russian officials and business people, as had been mandated by a law passed earlier this year. Second, an official from the White House promptly announced that the administration would be throwing out this list, and that they would not be announcing any new sanctions. Instead, according to the White House, the threat of sanctions was already acting as a sufficient deterrent to potential customers of Russian trade. The announcements quickly provoked a mix of outrage and mockery from both Washington and Moscow, while the public was left perplexed as to the significance of these developments in light of the ongoing Russian investigations. Continue reading
By Daniel Brumberg
Director, Democracy and Governance Studies, Georgetown University
On the afternoon of January 26, 2018 the Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University will host a special panel to celebrate what is for us a very special occasion: ten years as the only MA degree program in the US that focuses on democracy, human rights and governance. There is no doubt that the significance of our MA program has increased in direct proportion to the mounting challenges to democracies and democratization that have emerged in every corner of the globe – including the United States. Some of these challenges, as I discuss below, are relatively recent, such as the rising influence of “global autocracies.” Others, such as polarization of the US political arena, are not exactly new, as anyone who recalls the political and social conflicts that rocked in our country during the sixties and seventies. But in the context of growing authoritarian challenges abroad, intensified political conflict in the US is surely complicating the task of fostering democratic change abroad.
By Yufei Zhang
China’s New Ambition
In November 2017, a major mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party published an op-ed, inciting fierce debate about the political system in China. “China is the biggest and the most successful democracy in the world,” Han Zhen, the head of a top-ranked university in China, stated in that article. “China’s achievements have already broken up the prerogative interpretation of democracy by the West.”
For many people in the West, facts speak for themselves – China has been an authoritarian country for decades, without a single interval. However, this fait accompli turns out to be not so true for those in China, who have received a set of systematic propagandas since childhood. Over decades, the spin doctors in China have led an effort to have ordinary Chinese believe that the political system in China, modified by various prefixes like socialism or people’s republic, has been a “truly democratic one” from the beginning. Continue reading
By Jennifer R. Dresden
It’s that time of year again and we here at the Democracy & Governance Program know how busy things can get in December. For those of you last-minute shoppers still unsure of what to get loved ones in the democracy and governance field for the holidays, we’ve got your back. For those of you just looking for a good, thoughtful read at the end of a hectic year, we’re here to help.
We are happy to present the first annual Democracy & Governance Recommended Books List, brought to you by the faculty, alumni, and Advisory Board of the Georgetown University Democracy & Governance Program.
By Allison Schlossberg
The outcome of the referendum in the United Kingdom in June 2016 sent shockwaves through the entire global community. Even though multiple world leaders like Barack Obama and Angela Merkel encouraged British voters to remain within the European Union, ultimately the majority of voters decided to leave the organization. I could not believe the results, and remember reading and watching the coverage extensively to understand the reasons why British citizens wanted to leave the EU. One of the most striking reports was that Google searches for “What is the EU?” skyrocketed after the results were finalized. I could not comprehend that citizens of a Western European, highly educated democracy were seemingly not aware of the impact of the EU in their country prior to Election Day.
By Grayson Lewis
British Prime Minister Theresa May (left) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe(right)
The optics were sub-optimal for British Prime Minister Theresa May as she took to the podium in front of Number 10 Downing Street on a characteristically chilly and rainy London April morning. The wind tossed up her hitherto immaculate bob-cut hair, as passing cars honked loudly over her speech. More than the weather however, it was the content of May’s announcement that caught the attention of a sleepy British public. May confidently, yet very unexpectedly, announced her cabinet’s push for a snap election, to take place in less than two months’ time. This meant that -despite her recent stance up to that point that her government wasn’t seeking to do so- May was intending for British voters nationwide to return to the polls a whole three years ahead of schedule. For many observers who weren’t familiar with British politics, this begged a simple question: Why?