A man in Jakarta shows his inked finger at a polling station to proof he voted in the 2009 presidential election, the second since the fall of the Suharto regime. Photo: Isabel Esterman.
Once widely considered a desirable endpoint for all nations, democracy’s seeming benefits are now openly questioned by many. The poor results of democratization in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the rise of economically successful non-democracies such as China, have caused democracy promotion to lose some of its luster. So, given these recent trends, what are democracy’s prospects for the future?
This question was the primary focus of a recent panel discussion hosted by the Forum Aussenpolitik (foraus) and NCCR Democracy at the University of Zurich. Entitled “Democracy Promotion: Lessons from Different Regions of the World,” the discussion featured three experts who analyzed the ways and means of democracy promotion; its feasibility; how and whether it should be encouraged, and its successes and failures.
Malaysian flag. Image by Eric Teoh/Flickr.
As expected, the National Front (BN) coalition won Malaysia’s May 5 election, but not without widespread allegations of electoral fraud, including the use of Bangladeshi migrants as illegal voters and other gerrymandering tactics. The opposition People’s Pact (PR) coalition leader Anwar Ibrahim refused to concede defeat and held a protest rally on May 8, attended by about 100,000.
The election’s outcome and the immediate responses by BN leadership threaten to undermine the powerful example of Malaysia as an Islamic country with parliamentary democracy and a parallel legal system of civil and Islamic laws. Even though the US has recognized the BN win, the White House has called on the Malaysian authorities to investigate the claims of election irregularities. It is imperative that the United States spoke out on this issue as it still plays a huge role in promoting democracy through fair elections. » More
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the first presidential debate. Photo: VOA/Wikimedia Commons
On 8 November, our parent organization – the Center for Security Studies – hosted a colloquium on the recently completed Presidential and Congressional elections in the United States. The guest speaker, Professor Andreas Falke, not only analyzed the election data for his audience, he also speculated on how the election’s outcomes might impact US domestic and foreign policies over the next four years, to include its influence on transatlantic relations.
Hosting Professor Falke also provided us with the opportunity to put some questions of our own to this keen observer of American politics. In the following podcast, we ask him whether he thought there was anything surprising about the election results, what the future holds for the US Republican Party, and what else we might expect from President Obama in his second term.
President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan – Betting on America. Photo: Anirudh Koul/flickr
On the 9 October, the ISN and the Center for Security Studies (our parent organization) hosted an expert panel organized by the US Embassy in Bern. The panelists, who included Ms. Susan M. Elbow, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy; Professor Antonius Liedhegener; Mr. Claude Longchamp; and Professor Corwin Smidt, provided their observations on how US international relations and security interests are impacting the current American presidential elections, if at all. You can find out more about their perspectives and opinions by watching the following video. » More