Trump’s New Sanctions Policy: Russia First

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 “Trump’s New Sanctions Policy: Russia First”

Supporting Democracy and Human Rights in an Age of Authoritarian Challenges and Democratic Setbacks

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.

Continue reading “Supporting Democracy and Human Rights in an Age of Authoritarian Challenges and Democratic Setbacks”

Why China is not “the biggest and the most successful democracy”

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 “Why China is not “the biggest and the most successful democracy””

Democracy & Governance Holiday Book List

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.

Continue reading “Democracy & Governance Holiday Book List”

Experience Abroad: The Impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland

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.

Continue reading “Experience Abroad: The Impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland”

Oh Snap! Why did Japan and Britain’s 2017 Elections End Up so Differently?

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?

Continue reading “Oh Snap! Why did Japan and Britain’s 2017 Elections End Up so Differently?”

Zimbabwe: An Intra-Party Crisis

By Lexi Merrick Boiro

The current Zimbabwe political crisis has reached new heights. However, Tuesday night’s events are merely indicative of the ongoing scramble for power within the ruling ZANU-PF party rather than a sudden change in the Zimbabwean political scene. These events are the result of the power struggle for succession to President Robert Mugabe, 93, who has ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1980.

The apparent military coup occurred just over a week after Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa fled the country after repeated verbal attacks by First Lady Grace Mugabe stating that Mnangawa and his allies in the “Lacoste faction” of the ruling ZANU-PF party were seeking to breed factionalism in their efforts to succeed her husband as President. Mnangagwa first left the country in August after he was apparently poisoned. The First Lady denied any involvement. After returning to Zimbabwe, he was verbally condemned at repeated rallies by both President Mugabe and his wife before being fired on November 6th, 2018. On Tuesday, the head of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga, spoke out against Mugabe’s “purges”  of “members associated with liberation history” and warned that the military “will not hesitate to step in.”

Continue reading “Zimbabwe: An Intra-Party Crisis”

Call for Papers: Democracy & Society Vol. 15 (2017-18)

The Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University is seeking well-written, interesting submissions of 1,500 – 2,000 words for the 2017-18 edition of its publication — Democracy & Society. The submissions can be new publications, summaries, excerpts of recently completed research, book reviews, and works in progress. Graduate and undergraduate submissions are both accepted. Submissions for this issue will be due by January 19, 2018. Please email all submissions along with a brief author’s bio to democracyandsociety@gmail.com.

This issue will have a focus on Democracy, Nationalism, and Populism and we are seeking articles that address the following themes: Continue reading “Call for Papers: Democracy & Society Vol. 15 (2017-18)”

Tech Companies Need Democracy Ombudsmen

By Evan Chiacchiaro

As technology rapidly changes the way Americans live, it is essential for the future of American democracy that those driving this change wrestle with how new developments affect democratic norms and processes. The most effective way to do so is for technology companies to establish independent, non-partisan “democratic ombudsman” offices. The “democracy ombudsman” should be charged with understanding the effects of their company’s products on democratic governance and acting as an internal advocate for decisions that promote a healthy American democracy. Continue reading “Tech Companies Need Democracy Ombudsmen”

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