Foreign Policy Blogs

Democracy Promotion

With Chavez out of sight, Venezuela faces uncertain future

With Chavez out of sight, Venezuela faces uncertain future

Back in October during Venezuela’s presidential election, the health status of President Hugo Chavez–and its impact on his ability to lead the country–was unclear. Yet the president’s popularity won out and he was awarded another term. Yet it has now been over a month since his last public appearance, after which Chavez underwent cancer surgery. […]

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Shinzo Abe returns to lead Japan

Shinzo Abe returns to lead Japan

On the heels of South Korea‘s recent election, Japan has chosen new leadership as well. Well, not completely new. Shinzo Abe–who was prime minister for a brief term in 2006-7–of the Liberal Democratic Party will lead what he termed “a crisis breakthrough cabinet.” Described and right-wing, nationalist, hawkish, and outspoken, Abe has vowed to shore […]

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Russian opposition: experiment failed?

Russian opposition: experiment failed?

If a small number of people gather to protest a government that doesn’t listen, do they make a sound? Such is the dilemma facing the dwindling size of the anti-establishment movement in Russia, which I wrote about back in April. This month (December 2012) marks the one year anniversary of when hordes of protesters filled […]

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South Korea’s new president: ties to the past, hope for the future

South Korea’s new president: ties to the past, hope for the future

A bitter campaign. A contentious election. A close vote. A winner boosted by overwhelming support among a particular age group. A leader who must unite a politically polarized nation. Sounds like the United States, but could also describe South Korea. On Wed. Dec. 19, the Asian nation made Park Geun-hye its first female president. In […]

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Fraud allegations hang over Egypt’s constitution vote

Fraud allegations hang over Egypt’s constitution vote

Just look to Egypt for the latest proof that the road to democracy is rocky and perilous. After weeks of protests and concerns over President Mohamed Morsi assuming expansive presidential powers–which I covered here–assertions of foul play during that the past weekend’s national constitutional referendum have come to light. Voter turnout is estimated at just […]

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In Case You Missed It: Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index

In Case You Missed It: Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index

How corrupt is your government? This week, Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a measure of “perceived levels of public sector corruption in countries worldwide.” Some results are simply unsurprising: out of 176 countries, war-torn Afghanistan and Somalia, and opaque, impoverished North Korea share the bottom spot. Meanwhile, Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand, […]

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Has Egypt’s Morsi gone too far?

Has Egypt’s Morsi gone too far?

Egypt’s fragile young democracy seems on a knife’s edge after President Mohamed Morsi decreed that decisions he makes until a parliament is instituted are not subject to judicial review. Morsi’s camp insists this measure is necessary to protect the democratically chosen assembly working to agree on and draft a constitution, which faces opposition from judges […]

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Meet the new boss…same as the old boss?

Meet the new boss…same as the old boss?

Presidential politics in China are pretty predictable. About once a decade its Communist Party votes for a new leader, who becomes the new president. The process is shrouded in secrecy, and not much is known about the new boss until he (and it’s always been a “he”) takes office. There’s also always some debate and […]

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President Obama’s Visit to Myanmar

President Obama’s Visit to Myanmar

Having visited Myanmar years ago when it seemed uncertain when or if political change would occur, I find it fascinating to watch the ongoing democratization of Myanmar, which continued to unfold this week with President Obama’s historic trip and meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, one of my personal heroes. In a generally optimistic time […]

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Democracy at home

Democracy at home

This blog has looked at democracy and democracy promotion (or in some cases suppression) around the world. My aim is to look at how democracy works, and could work better. I’ve covered elections far and wide, and while my focus is global it only seems right that I say something about one of the defining […]

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Contrasting Elections in the U.S. and China

Contrasting Elections in the U.S. and China

When two of the world’s largest superpowers undergo political transitions at the same time, contrasts are inevitable.  One of the best comparisons comes from the above cartoon, which contrasts the bombardment of information from the American press with the deafening silence from China’s new leadership.  While many Americans are sick and tired of the relentless […]

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Ethiopia stays peaceful without Meles

Ethiopia stays peaceful without Meles

In late August 2012 I wrote about uncertainty and apprehension surrounding the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who ruled Ethiopia unchallenged for 21 years. Hailemariam Desalegn, Meles’ deputy, was a relative political unknown and no one agreed on how effective he would be in running the country, or in keeping stability in a notoriously […]

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Gender equality victory in Botswana

Gender equality victory in Botswana

Sadly, discriminatory policies exist in many places that claim to be democracies. Fortunately, one country in Africa recently did something about one such policy. The High Court of Botswana should be praised for taking a stand on gender equality, and we can only hope that other countries with official or accepted policies that subjugate women […]

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Capriles comes up short in Venezuela; Chavez reign continues

Capriles comes up short in Venezuela; Chavez reign continues

Despite a strong showing by Henrique Capriles Radonski, not surprisingly Hugo Chavez emerged victorious from Venezuela’s presidential election on Oct. 7, 2012. He won 54% of the vote to Capriles’ 45%. Over 80% of eligible voters participated, with little to no reports of fraud or coercion that I’ve read. While still a comfortable margin, Capriles’ […]

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Power struggle in Pakistan

Power struggle in Pakistan

Democracies feature checks and balances on power, but government branches (in theory at least) are supposed to work in concert to run the country and support the citizenry. This cooperation seems to have broken down in Pakistan, where recently the judiciary and executive clashed over the status of corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari. […]

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