Democracy Research News March 2020

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March 2020

news from the network of Democracy research institutes (NDRI)

The International Forum for Democratic Studies (United States) released a report entitled “Firming Up Democracy’s Soft Underbelly: Authoritarian Influence and Media Vulnerability,” written by Edward Lucas. The report explores how authoritarian regimes like Russia and China have invested billions of dollars in media enterprises and information initiatives to manipulate, distort, and censor the global information environment. The paper is the first in a series of publications to be released in the coming months as part of the Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience initiative.




The International Forum for Democratic Studies (United States) published a new working paper examining emerging challenges to democracy in a globalized era. The paper, written by Samuel Woolley and Katie Joseff and entitled “Demand for Deceit: How the Way We Think Drives Disinformation,” studies the demand-side drivers of disinformation and seeks to understand why some users repeatedly seek out and believe sources of disinformation while rejecting other information sources.

The V-Dem Institute (Sweden) released a new report by Sandra Grahn and Anna Lührmann entitled “Civil Society and Post-Independence Democracy Levels,” which demonstrates that the presence of democratic civil society organizations prior to independence is a vital component to a country’s future democratic consolidation.

Péter Krekó and Patrik Szicherle of the Political Capital Institute (Hungary)Grigorij Mesežnikov of the Institute for Public Affairs (Slovakia), and Jonáš Syrovátka and Jakub Merc of the Prague Security Studies Initiative (Czech Republic) collaborated on a new report entitled “Doors Wide Shut: Russian, Chinese, and Turkish Authoritarian Influence in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.” The report examines how authoritarian influence has infiltrated the policy-making process in their countries.

The Journal of Democracy (United States) published a special 30th anniversary issue that reflects on democracy’s prospects in a shifting global landscape. To commemorate the anniversary, the International Forum for Democratic Studies held a celebration on January 23, 2020, in Washington, DC, entitled “Democracy Embattled.”

The International Forum for Democratic Studies also released several podcast episodes as part of its Power 3.0 series. Episodes include “Demystifying Deepfakes” with Samuel Gregory; “Investigating Transnational Kleptocracy” with Miranda Patrucic; “Authoritarian Technology and Disinformation” with Natalia Antelava; and “Breaking the Truth” with Samuel Woolley.



In November 2019, Afrobarometer issued a report entitled “Gains and Gaps: Perceptions and Experiences of Gender in Africa,” by Carmen Alpin Lardies, Dominique Dryding, and Carolyn Logal, that found that African societies are generally supportive of the principle of women’s equality, witness considerable success in achieving equality in practice, and tend to applaud government performance in promoting equal rights and opportunities for women.

The Center for Democratic Development (Ghana) has released several publications, including “Corruption and Public Service Delivery” and “Democracy, Elections and the December 2019 Referendum,” both of which highlight recent Ghana Afrobarometer survey results. A full list of publications is available here.



In an analysis from the Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (Malaysia), Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and Cynthia Gabriel identified the successes and failures of the promised governance and anti-corruption reforms initiated by the ruling coalition in Malaysia. The report, entitled A Report on Pakatan Harapan’s Institutional and Political Reform,” was presented to the parliamentary Caucus on Reform and Governance in December 2019.

The Jinnah Institute (Pakistan) issued a policy brief entitled “Integrating Transgender Persons: Towards Inclusive Policymaking” by Mariam Ali Bokhari and Muhammad Amir Khanin in October 2019. The report analyzes the steps needed to promote inclusion and empower transgender individuals in the country.

In November 2019, the East Asia Institute (South Korea) published an article entitled “ROK-U.S. Cooperation in an Era of U.S.-China Strategic Competition,” by Sook Jong Lee, that examined the implications of the U.S.-China power struggle in relation to South Korea’s relationship to the United States. The institute also hosted its first workshop entitled “Promoting Civil Society Engagement in Myanmar’s Electoral Democracy” in January 2020 as part of its continued effort to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Myanmar.



The Center for Policy Studies (Hungary/Austria) at the Central European University released a book written by Celine Cantat, Eda Sevinin, Ewa Maczynska, and Tegiye Birey entitled Challenging the Political Across Borders: Migrants’ and Solirdarity Struggles, which aims to learn from the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe and how common struggles unite these groups.

Predrag Petrović from the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (Serbia) conducted a budgetary analysis of the Serbian security sector in a report entitled “Buying Loyalty?” The report found that the security sector has seen a rapid budgetary increase without transparency, fueling concerns of increased surveillance and intimidation of civil society by security forces.

The European Stability Initiative (Turkey) issued a report on “Poland’s Deepening Crisis: When the Rule of Law Dies in Europe” that outlined what it sees as the steps taken by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to denigrate the rule of law and undermine the independence of the judiciary in Poland.

The Democratic Initiatives Foundation (Ukraine) published a polling analysis entitled “Identity, War, and Peace: Public Attitudes in the Ukraine-Controlled Donbas,” in which Olexiy Haran, Maksym Yakovlyev, and Maria Zolkina analyze Ukrainians’ attitudes surrounding the conflict in the Donbas and their perceptions of how peace can be achieved.  A full list of their publications can be found here.



The Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL, Argentina) hosted its 2019 edition of the Good Bye Lenin program in Buenos Aires, that explored the construction of socialism in Central and Eastern Europe, the velvet and iron transitions, and the state of the region 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The center also published a series of video interviews with prominent experts, which can be viewed here.

The State of the Nation Program (Costa Rica) released its 2019 State of the Nation Report that assesses Costa Rica’s performance on Sustainable Human Development goals determined by the United Nations. The report covers economic, social, political, and environmental issues.

The Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC, Argentina) released a new book by Gala Díaz Langou, Gimena de León, José Florito, Florencia Caro Sachetti, Alejandro Biondi Rodríguez, and Matilde Karczmarczyk entitled The Gender of Work. The book diagnoses the gender gaps that violate the economic rights of women in Argentina and presents policy suggestions to remove the barriers.



The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (Lebanon) published a new article entitled “Reimagining an Alternative Lebanon” by Bassel Salloukh that analyzes the mass protests in Lebanon and how the largely youth-driven movement imagines a government beyond the sectarian system. The center continues to publish its monthly “The Government Monitor” series that tracks the progress of Lebanon’s government and the implementation of reforms.

The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (USA) held two conferences in Tunisia to outline new reforms for the incoming government. The first conference, entitled “Combating Corruption: Proposals for the Next Government,” urged the incoming government to implement the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and emphasize a values-based approach to curbing corruption. The second conference, entitled “Economic Priorities of the Incoming Government,” sought to design strategies to encourage business development and investment in Tunisia.

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research released a policy brief written by Alaa Lahluh and Jehad Harb entitled “Strengthen the Supreme Council to Protect the Independence of the Palestinian Judiciary,” which proposes recommendations to reform the Transitional Justice Council to protect it from external interference and solidifying its independence while guaranteeing the integrity of the system.

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. To submit comments or to inquire about joining the Network, please write to Melissa Aten at

The views expressed in this newsletter represent the opinions and analysis of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for Democracy or its staff.


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