Nearly everyone underestimated Volodymyr Zelensky—except for the Ukrainian people. The former comic turned heroic wartime president has long been recognized for his patriotism and fearless responses to injustice. He has championed the same ideals from the presidency as he did on the stage—integrity and engagement in politics, and unity and a shared identity among all Ukrainians.
Plus: Viktor Orbán won big in Hungary’s legislative elections; the son of dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. won the Philippines’ presidential election in a landslide; and Putin’s war on Ukraine is escalating, prompting analysts to look at why he has taken this course and what it means both inside and outside of Russia.
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- Volodymyr Zelensky is far more than a brave wartime leader, writes Jessica Pisano. Ukraine’s president began changing the tenor and direction of Ukrainian politics long before the people made him their president.
- Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party won another supermajority in April, dashing the hopes of a unified opposition. Kim Lane Scheppele details how Orbán uses legislative majorities to neutralize opposition strategies at every turn with changes to the law.
- Vladimir Putin made food independence a pillar of Russian policy more than a decade ago, explain Janetta Azarieva, Yitzhak M. Brudny, and Eugene Finkel. Today, the Kremlin is using food as both a weapon and a shield.
Also in this issue:
- Four essays on “The War in Ukraine” take a look from different angles at the inner workings of the Putin regime: Former Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev insists that Putin must be defeated, observing that democracies’ determination to avoid war emboldens autocracies to wage it; Ivan Gomza finds that the internal logic of Putin’s personalistic dictatorship made its invasion of Ukraine almost inevitable; Greg Yudin explains how public-opinion surveys and elections in Russia help shape the relationship between Putin and the people; and Kathryn Stoner catalogues the ways in which Putin’s war has undone three decades of progress in Russia.
- Thirty-six years after his dictator father was deposed from power, writes Richard Javad Heydarian, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected president of the Philippines with a huge majority. Will he dismantle what remains of Philippine democracy?
- How resilient is the CCP? Yuen Yuen Ang asserts that by undercutting China’s political norms to cement his own power and brand of rule, Xi Jinping may also have created new vulnerabilities for the regime.
- Praised for helping to bring Sri Lanka’s civil war to an end in May 2009, Mahinda Rajapaksa was ousted as prime minister by massive protests in May 2022. Neil DeVotta explains how rampant majoritarianism has been a vehicle for grand corruption that has wrecked the Sri Lankan economy.
- Samuel C. Woolley describes how “nano-influencers” are reshaping social-media propaganda campaigns and upending political discourse in democracies around the world.
- A set of essays explores how societies in three world regions are “Combating Beijing’s Sharp Power”: John Fitzgerald details how civil society in Australia and Chinese Australians were the first to push back against Chinese interference in Australian politics and public life; Ketty Chen writes that Taiwan has long been the biggest target of Beijing’s information manipulation, and Taiwanese civil society has pioneered methods for defending against it; and Martin Hála explains how, despite Beijing’s strong-arm tactics, democracies in East Central Europe have blunted the impact of sharp-power manipulations by investigating and exposing them.
- Journal of Democracy coeditor Tarek Masoud reviews The Man Who Understood Democracy: The Life of Alexis de Tocqueville by Olivier Zunz.
View the full Table of Contents.
For more coverage on Ukraine, visit the JoD Online:
- Democracy’s Most Dangerous Assumptions by Daniel Fried
- Putin’s Incredible Shrinking Victory Parade by Olexiy Minakov
- Will Putin Outlast the War? by Maria Snegovaya
- Why Putin’s Days Are Numbered by Vladimir Milov
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