Democracy Research News July 2018

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July 2018

News from the Network of Democracy
Research Institutes (NDRI)

“Explaining Eastern Europe” – The July issue of the Journal of Democracy features a cluster of articles on “Explaining Eastern Europe.” The cluster includes four authors affiliated with NDRI member institutes:

In tandem with the Journal of Democracy cluster on Central and Eastern Europe, the International Forum for Democratic Studies (US) asked five leading experts for their views on “What is the Root Cause of Rising Illiberalism in Central and Eastern Europe?

The V-Dem Institute (Sweden) has issued a call for Country Experts for its January 2019 dataset update. During these updates, most Country Experts work on one country, observed over the past several decades, and on one or two clusters of questions, e.g.: (1) elections and political parties, (2) the executive, the legislature and deliberation, (3) judiciary, civil liberty and sovereignty, and (4) civil society, media freedom and political equality. The coding procedure is entirely web-based. The default language for the online surveys is English but the survey also available in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian. The Institute is searching for a Country Coordinator on Brunei.


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Democracy is in decline for one third of the world, according to the V-Dem Institute’s Annual Democracy Report 2018: “Democracy for All?”. The study revealed that in 2017 democratic qualities were in decline in 24 countries across the world, including in some of the most populous, such as the US and India.

The V-Dem Institute also published a number of new working papers: “What Makes Experts Reliable?;” “How to Make Causal Inferences with Time-Series Cross-Sectional Data under Selection on Observables;” “Self-Censorship in Authoritarian States: Response Bias in Measures of Popular Support in China;” and “Introducing the Historical Varieties of Democracy Dataset: Political Institutions in the Long 19th Century.”

The International Forum for Democratic StudiesPower 3.0 blog recently published posts on “From Central Africa to Australia: Following the Kleptocrats’ Money;” “Countering Transnational Kleptocracy: How Democracies Can Lead the Way;” and “The 16+1 Initiative: China’s Divisive Equation for Central and Eastern Europe.”

The International Forum also published an issue brief on “How Disinformation Impacts Politics and Publics,” which examines how disinformation is used and consumed, proactive and reactive disinformation strategies in different country contexts, and the scale of the disinformation crisis.



Afrobarometer’s current round of surveys (to be completed by mid-2018) explores migration intentions and drivers in 35 African countries. Initial data from nine countries – Ghana, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Mali, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – show that on average, one-third of respondents have considered emigrating, including 16% who have given it “a lot” of thought.

In Nigeria, Afrobarometer’s 2017 survey indicates that citizens praise government and military efforts to fight violent extremism but report relatively high levels of fear and personal experience of such violence. The survey also finds that a majority of citizens see economic conditions as bad and the country as going in the wrong direction – although an overwhelming majority are optimistic that the economy will be better in a year’s time.

Afrobarometer’s 2014/2015 surveys conducted across 36 African countries show that a little more than half (54%) of the population express support for an unfettered media; and public attitudes show increasing support for multiparty democracy, but both ruling and opposition parties still struggle to gain popular trust.

In São Tomé and Príncipe, Afrobarometer’s  2015 survey data shows that popular trust in state institutions is low while perceptions of corruption are widespread. These findings challenge São Tomeans working to reduce corruption and strengthen public trust in their democratic institutions.

The Center for Democracy and Development West Africa (Nigeria) published the report “Decentralisation, Governance and Corruption at the Local Level, Evidences from Nigeria,” which examines the impact of decentralization on reducing corruption and increasing accountability.

The Centre for Development and Enterprise (South Africa) recently released two short reports on the land reform challenge in South Africa to encourage informed engagement with the topic.Business and Land Reform” summarizes CDE’s previous recommendations on the land reform issue, and “The Looming Land Restitution Crisis” gives an overview of the key issues, the reasons restitution has been slow, and the implications of this for economic growth.

A working paper for Effective States and Inclusive Development, authored by researchers at the  Ghana Center for Democratic Development  (CDD-Ghana) emphasizes the extent to which teacher accountability in Ghana’s education sector is shaped by the dynamics of the country’s political settlement, from the national level through districts to schools themselves. A key finding across the two districts studied was that within Ghana’s competitive clientelist settlement, which tends to generate a high degree of policy incoherence and politicization within the education sector, the drivers of improved performance and accountability flow less from the national to the local, but instead need to be (re)-generated at the level of districts and schools.

CDD-Ghana and the NorGlobal Network hosted the Breaking Backlash Against Democracy (Breaking BAD) workshop, which provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss the manifestations and dimensions of democratic backlash in Africa with regard to what rights are being restricted, when and how these restrictions take place, as well as the response strategies adopted by both domestic and international actors.



The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (Indonesia) published “Security Sector Governance and the Role of Oversight – The Case of Indonesia,” in which author Iis Gindarash examines how parliament, independent oversign bodies, civil society, and think tanks are hindered in their ability in providing oversight of Indonesia’s security sector governance.

The International Forum for Democratic StudiesPower 3.0 blog recently published a post on “How Beijing Is Reshaping the Infrastructure of Development” that examines how Beijing has emerged as an alternative source of infrastructure financing and become an institutional player through its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and New Development Bank (NDB or, as it is often called, the BRICS bank).

The Jinnah Institute (Pakistan) published a new Policy Brief on “Terrorism in the Age of New Media” that examines the use of new media tools by modern violent extremist groups to build their narrative and develop self-sustaining “online” networks that allow them to increasingly impact the global information environment and maintain adaptive terrorist networks.

A systematic and continuous review of the pre-poll electoral process in Pakistan by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), spanning over a period of a year starting from April 2017 up to March 2018, indicates that the pre-poll process has, so far, been Unfair overall. The PILDAT Pre-Election Assessment Report on a scale of 100.  with a Score Card on Pre-Poll Fairness Perception is based on an 11-point Pre-poll Fairness Framework and has received an overall score of 51.5%.



The Association for International Affairs (Czech Republic) recently launched Chinfluence, an international project mapping Chinese political and economic influence in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.

The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (Serbia) released a new report, “West Side Story,” that offers a proposal to correct the administrative line between Serbia and Kosovo and the impact it will have on reaching a comprehensive agreement on the normalization of relations between the two territories.

Boris Begovic, senior fellow and former executive director of the Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies (Serbia) recently published “Must Orthodoxy be a Barrier to Liberal Democracy? The Case of Serbia 1903 – 1914” in Public Orthodoxy.

Sinopsis, a joint project of AcaMedia (Czech Republic) and the Institute of East Asian Studies at Charles University in Prague published “Sinopsis & Jichang Lulu: UN with Chinese Characteristics,” an analysis of the Chinese Communist Party’s elite capture and “discourse management” on a global scale, aimed at redefining “human rights” and getting China’s strategic initiatives institutionally endorsed by an international body.

The V-Dem Institute will hold a research workshop on “Democracy in Reverse: Patterns of Autocratization in Eastern Europe and Eurasia” on Friday, October 19, 2018, at the University of Tartu, Estonia. The workshop is designed to examine the more visible pathways of autocratization in areas such as Central Asia, Russia, or Belarus.



CADAL (Argentina) and Transparencia Electoral published Así se vota en Cuba, by political scientist Leandro Querido. The book offers a forensic analysis of the Cuban electoral system under the heat of the historic electoral process of 2017/2018.
CADAL also published “The Democracy World Cup,” which adhered to the initiative started by the Bertelsmann Foundation that classifies each of the 32 countries taking part in the 2018 World Cup for its elections (playmaking), freedom of expression (fan culture), protection of civil rights (defense), social inclusion (team spirit) and corruption prevention (fair play), offering it in Spanish. CADAL also translated into Spanish the Global Trends and the regional chapters of the 2018 Bertelsmann Transformation Index.

Instituto Atuação (Brazil) launched the Local Democracy Index, which measures and diagnoses the quality of democracy at the municipal level in Brazil.

The International Forum for Democratic Studies (US) hosted an event on “The End of Peru’s Success Story?” with political scientist Alberto Vergara, who also offered his thoughts on “Politics, Parties, and the Prospects for Democracy in Peru.” The International Forum also hosted an event with Argentine journalist and civil society leader Maria Baron on “The Difficult Road to Transparency in Latin America.”


Democracy Research News is the electronic newsletter of the Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI), a membership association of institutions that conduct and publish research on democracy and democratic development. It is one of several functional networks associated with the World Movement for Democracy. To submit comments or to inquire about joining the Network, please write to Melissa Aten at