Thirty years ago, democracy was on the march. Today, it faces a clear and present danger across the world, and the possibility for global conflict is rising. Is it too late to reverse course?
Plus: Tunisia’s president staged a coup in July 2021, effectively ending the country’s democracy; Afghanistan’s republic imploded in August amid the Taliban offensive and U.S. withdrawal; and China continues to intensify manipulation of foreign media for its own ends.
- In his final essay as coeditor 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.
- Former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki explains how Kais Saied’s power grab has crushed the country’s democratic hopes, using the old playbook of dictators past and present; Nate Grubman shows how the repeated failures of Tunisia’s once-promising democratic transition created a crisis ripe for exploitation by a populist outsider; and Hicham Bou Nassif argues that the Tunisian military abandoned democracy and became an autocrat’s accomplice in exchange for prestige and political influence.
- Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili writes that the collapse of Afghanistan resulted more from a faulty foundation and the international community’s missteps than from the country’s supposedly endemic corruption.
Also in this issue:
- Michael C. Davis examines how Beijing has been wielding the new National Security Law to suppress Hongkongers’ rights and freedoms.
- Sarah Cook outlines how Beijing is expanding its global media footprint—and in the process undermining free expression, public debate, and electoral integrity in more open societies—and strategies for countering it.
- Edward Lucas details how autocrats undermine media freedom and weaponize information against democracy, and shares ways that democracies can fight back.
- Danielle Resnick recounts how opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema defeated an increasingly autocratic incumbent in Zambia’s 2021 presidential election, ending a decade of democratic backsliding.
- James Loxton delves into Panama’s emergence as one of Latin America’s richest and most stable democracies despite a turbulent history and rampant corruption.
- Johan Engvall shows how Kyrgyzstan’s parliament devolved into a corrupt bazaar, dimming its democratic prospects.
Plus an exchange on Christian Welzel’s “Why the Future Is Democratic”:
- Roberto Stefan Foa, Yascha Mounk, and Andrew Klassen argue that Welzel’s case for a democratic future is based on the mistaken notion that opinion surveys can predict the future.
- Christian Welzel and coauthors Stefan Kruse and Lennart Brunkert maintain that emancipative values continue to spread worldwide, clearly pointing to brighter democratic days.
View the full Table of Contents.
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