At present, the key struggle for the future of liberal democracy appears as if it will be unfolding among parties and thinkers on the right.
Volume 30, Issue 1
The Road to Digital Unfreedom
There is a growing sense today that democrats worldwide are in a race against time to prevent cyberspace from becoming an arena for surveillance, control, and manipulation.
Not so long ago, the internet was being lauded as a force for greater freedom and democracy. With the rise of intrusive and addictive social media, however, a discomfiting reality has set in.
Democracies must grapple not only with the proliferation of AI to authoritarian and illiberal regimes, but also with the temptation that AI poses for democratic governments themselves.
Chinese authorities are wielding facial-recognition software, big-data analytics, and other digital technologies to control China’s citizens by monitoring and assessing their activities, both online and off.
The triumph of far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s October 2018 presidential election was made possible by a series of economic, social, and political crises that have shaken Brazilian democracy.
India Under Modi
In the world’s largest democracy, liberalism is in retreat, as evidenced by a pattern of assaults on minorities, press freedom, and the independence of key cultural and intellectual institutions.
Charges that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party threaten liberal-democratic safeguards are best understood as the overheated reaction of an insular elite that is still struggling to come to terms with its democratic displacement from power.
Since their transitions, the democracies of the “third wave” have followed a range of trajectories beyond simple survival or breakdown. Many have stagnated at low levels of democracy and some have suffered democratic erosion, but there also have been cases of democratic deepening against the odds.
In 2018, Italian voters produced Europe’s first populist majority. Lega and the Five Star Movement, each populist in its own way, collectively won just over half the vote. Now they are locked in a struggle with the EU.
With its recent electoral turnover of power, Pakistan seemingly passed a milestone of democratic consolidation. But beneath the surface, power remains where it long has been—with the military.
Zimbabwe’s first elections since the November 2017 coup that ousted nonagenarian dictator Robert Mugabe were marred by the abuse of state resources, electoral irregularities, and a tragic bout of postelection violence that saw soldiers use deadly force against civilians.
A crackdown on the opposition, followed by sham parliamentary elections in July 2018, has deepened and extended the decades-long personalist dictatorship of Hun Sen.
A review of How to Rig an Election by Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas.
Reports on elections in Afghanistan, Armenia, Bahrain, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Latvia, Madagascar, Maldives, São Tomé and Príncipe, Swaziland, and Togo.
Excerpts from: the G7 Charlevoix Commitment on Defending Democracy from Foreign Threats; victory speech by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro; inaugural address by Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador; inaugural address by Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih; remarks by Angolan journalist Rafael Marques; and address by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Washington Declaration.