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VIDEO INTERVIEWS: #NGD Bites

We have interviewed some of the Next Generation Democracy (NGD) experts about their views and findings on democratic trends in different regions of the world. In this gallery, you will find brief videos with some highlights from their thoughts, what we call NGD Bites.
  • Sabine Donner, Bertelsmann Stiftung
    • Sabine Donner, Bertelsmann Stiftung

    • Watch Video

  • Mohammed Abdirizak, Somali One
    • Mohammed Abdirizak, Somali One

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  • Radha Kumar, Delhi Policy Group
    • Radha Kumar, Delhi Policy Group

    • Watch Video

  • Niranjan Sahoo, Observer Research Foundation
    • Niranjan Sahoo, Observer Research Foundation

    • Watch Video

  • Larry Diamond, Stanford Univeristy
    • Larry Diamond, Stanford Univeristy

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  • Jan Teorell, V-Dem Varieties of Democracy
    • Jan Teorell, V-Dem Varieties of Democracy

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  • Jennifer McCoy, The Carter Center
    • Jennifer McCoy, The Carter Center

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  • Gerardo Noto, UNDP
    • Gerardo Noto, UNDP

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  • Ismail Serageldin, Library of Alenxandria and NGIC
    • Ismail Serageldin, Library of Alenxandria and NGIC

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  • Emna Jeblaoui, UNDP
    • Emna Jeblaoui, UNDP

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NGD facilitates a discussion on the state and future of democracy in order to formulate both regional agendas and a global agenda, to reverse disquieting trends and advance democracy worldwide. The project progressively offers a comprehensive analysis of regional dynamics in democratic governance, a projection of relevant trends, and a compilation of transformative practices and transformative ideas to be discussed in a series of policy dialogues as well as through on-line exchanges. This will help generate collective responses, rather than fragmented and independent actions, and shape consensus around shared, forward-looking, action-oriented agendas.

The complete video interviews are in the following links:

 

Sabine_Donner_NGDBites    Sabine Donner, Senior Project Manager, Bertelsmann Stiftung

 

 

 

 

Niranjan_Sahoo_NGDBites  Niranjan Sahoo, Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation

 

 

 

 

Larry_DIamond_NGDBites  Larry Diamond, Director, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Stanford University

 

 

 

 

Jennifer_McCoy_NGDBItes  Jennifer McCoy, Director, Americas Program, The Carter Center 

 

 

 

 

Jan_Teorell_NGDBItes  Jan Teorell, Principal Investigator, V-Dem Varieties of Democracy

 

 

 

 

Emna_Jeblaoui_NGDBItes  Emna Jeblaoui, UNDP

 

 

 

 

Gerardo_Noto_NGDBItes  Gerardo Noto, Team Leader, Democratic Governance, UNDP

 

 

 

 

Radha_Kumar_NGDBites  Radha Kumar, Director-General, Delhi Policy Group

 

 

 

 

Mohamed_Abdirizak_NGDBites  Mohammed Abdirizak, Founder, Somali One

 

 

 

 

Ismail_Serageldin_NGDBItes  Ismail Serageldin, Director, Library of Alexandria

 

 

 

 

 

VIDEO: Is Authoritarianism Staging a Comeback?

The past few years have marked the beginning of a tumultuous period for global governance. Across the world, we have seen threats to international order and a disruption of longstanding political norms and values as authoritarians get smarter and persist undeterred. With authoritarianism on the rise in many of the world’s most strategically important regions, new questions emerge regarding the diffusion of power, the rise of sometimes violent nonstate actors, and the future role of the nation-state. Developing an appropriate strategy for the advancement of human rights and the support of nonviolent civil resistance movements is thus proving to be one of the most challenging policy dilemmas for the United States and other democracies.

On April 21,  the Atlantic Council, NGD Partner, hosted a public discussion of these challenges in recognition of the release of its forthcoming publication, Is Authoritarianism Staging a Comeback? This discussion featured multiple leading experts on nonviolent civil resistance and authoritarian states, and explored the range of issues and case-studies examined within this book of essays.

Atlantic Council CEO and President Mr. Frederick Kempe began by moderating a discussion on countering authoritarianism between Dr. Peter Ackerman, Dr. Paula Dobriansky, and Mr. Damon Wilson. This was followed by a discussion of the issues raised in the book itself, featuring Adm. Dennis Blair (USN, Ret.), Dr. George A. Lopez, and Dr. Regine Spector, moderated by Dr. Mathew Burrows and Dr. Maria J. Stephen.

BTI Interview: “Sovereign Debt is One of Democracy’s Weak Points”

This interview was published by the Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index Blog

“Sovereign Debt is One of Democracy’s Weak Points”

April 8, 2015 | by BTI Blog

Political scientist Stefan Wurster speaks about the shortcomings of democracy and why it nonetheless remains a successful model to meet the challenges of the future.

BTI Blog: Responding to signals of democratic decline, the Club de Madrid has launched the Next Generation Democracy project with the goal of enabling democracy to better meet the challenges of the present and the future, like the financial crisis or climate change. How well does democracy perform in terms of future-readiness compared to other forms of government?

Stefan Wurster: After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, many believed we would see democracy spread and become the predominant social system, but it turned out that they were wrong. Instead, we saw the emergence of hybrid regimes uniting both democratic and autocratic elements as well as a number of remarkably stable autocracies that have performed quite well in certain areas of policy. In principle, democracy remains a successful model, but whether or not it can deliver better results than its competitors, hybrid or autocratic regimes, depends on a number of different factors. One of the major contributions of the Next Generation Democracy project lies in offering a nuanced assessment that considers three different dimensions – Values and Institutions, Access and Inclusiveness, and Management and Policies – in terms of their political, economic and environmental implications.

BTI Blog: What are the biggest shortcomings of democracies in terms of future-readiness?

Stefan Wurster: Policymaking used to be geared primarily toward solving problems in the here-and-now. Democracy is the best form of government for that because it aims to address the needs of the majority of the current populace. The problem is that we are increasingly dealing with issues that not only affect us directly today, but impinge on the ability of future generations to act as well. Climate change is an example that comes to mind immediately, but reconciling the interests of current and future generations is also of key importance when it comes to other issues such as government debt.

However, motivating the majority of the population to take the interests of future generations into account in the decisions they make today is a considerable practical and normative challenge. If we look at the level of national and foreign debt in countries around the world, for example, democracies perform no better overall than nations with other forms of government. The reason is simply that voters fall into a trap often referred to as ‘the fiscal illusion,’ meaning they tend to focus on the short-term gain of pubic-sector spending and give less weight to the long-term costs of government commitments such as expensive social welfare programs. Short electoral cycles exacerbate the problem, since policymakers aiming to be re-elected within the next few years tend to take a short-term view as well.

BTI Blog: So what does democracy have going for it?

Stefan Wurster: There are enormous problems inherent in autocracy, of course. While it is possible to ignore the interests of future generations in a democracy, autocratic systems can disregard both the interests of future generations and those of the majority of today’s population. But it’s not just a question of democracy vs. autocracy. Aspects such as governments’ capacity to act, rule of law, and questions relating to states’ stability and the reliability of their legal and institutional frameworks also play an important role, and the Next Generation Democracy project consequently takes these into consideration as well. Its analysis shows that mature democracies score better in many policy areas, especially when an identifiable immediate gain as well as future benefits are involved. Democracies offer clear advantages when it comes to education, for example, benefitting both the current population and generations to come.

BTI Blog: How can democracies improve their ability to meet the challenges of the future?

Stefan Wurster: Democracies need to establish institutions or incorporate other elements in their political processes (such as an ombudsman system, for example) that serve to ensure that the interests of future generations and the long-term impact of political decisions are adequately taken into consideration. One possible approach is including what are known as ‘sunset legislation’ requiring the reauthorization of particular agencies, benefits, or laws based on regular assessments of their effectiveness. Another possibility is delinking certain areas from the direct democratic decision-making process. This is already the case with monetary policy, for instance. Here, an entire area of policy has been taken out of the hands of elected political representatives and delegated to central banks with the aim of achieving a certain policy goal—in this case, price stability. The problem with this approach, of course, is that sustainable development touches on many different areas and this route can’t be taken too often without limiting the scope for democratic decisions to an unacceptable degree.

BTI Blog: Are there best-practice examples for sustainable development strategies?

Stefan Wurster: A number of democracies, such as the Scandinavian countries, the Czech Republic and New Zealand, have introduced a wide range of policy instruments to foster sustainable development and instituted means of regularly assessing how effectively they are implemented. Local Agenda 21 was drawn up at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 in order to promote sustainable development at the community level. The opportunities for people to get involved and influence political processes directly are much greater at the local level. Democracies allow for political participation and civic engagement, which are essential to shaping policies that can successfully meet the challenges of the future over the long term.

BTI Blog: What would you say are the biggest challenges facing democracy over the next 15 years?

Stefan Wurster: Sovereign debt is undoubtedly one of democracy’s weak points. In Greece we’re seeing what can happen when the consequences of fiscal policy can no longer be deferred to some indeterminate time in the future and today’s citizens have to bear the brunt. Time will tell whether democracies are able to offer better solutions to these problems than autocratic governments.

Another major challenge is the issue of demographic change and aging societies. As the average age of voters rises and their average remaining lifetime becomes shorter, they may be more willing to shift a greater burden onto future generations. In this light, it is probably no coincidence that we are seeing significant numbers of older citizens participating in protests against the railway and urban development project Stuttgart 21 and other large-scale projects that impose substantial costs today, while their potential benefits won’t take effect until years or even decades from now. On the other hand, aging societies can tap into extensive pools of knowledge and potential, so they have the fundamental capacity to shape and implement policies that can promote sustainable development.

BTI Blog: According to democracy indices like the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index, there has been a significant decline in the quality of democracy around the world over the past decade. Do you expect this trend to continue over the next 15 years?

Stefan Wurster: It is unlikely that we will see big waves of democratization on the scale of those we witnessed after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc or in Latin America and Southern Europe in the 1970s. We can expect to see different processes and developments emerging and playing out in various ways in different countries and regions of the world, just as we do now. Democracy is facing serious competition from other models that appear to be delivering good results, at least in some areas. Notable examples are China, and to some extent, Russia. While I don’t believe this trend will lead to an overall increase in authoritarian regimes, some autocratic systems are so stable that they will undoubtedly persist for many years to come. With the exception of Tunisia, the hopes the Arab Spring sparked in this respect were not fulfilled; instead we have seen the emergence of an increasing number of hybrid regimes. If I were to venture a prediction as to what trend we are likely to see over the next 15 years, I would say that the number of hybrid regimes will probably continue to grow.

Dr. Stefan Wurster is political scientist at Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg. His research topics are sustainable development, comparative public policy, democracy and autocracy.

Interview by BTI Blog

Translation from German by Douglas Fox

PUBLICATION: Next Generation Democracy Looking Forward

Between the 23rd and the 25th of November 2014, under the framework of the Next Generation Democracy Project (NGD), the Club de Madrid and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) partnered to facilitate a policy dialogue -“Democracy and Human Rights in Decline? A Call to Action”- hosted by the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. Forty Club de Madrid Members and 100 renowned experts on democracy from academia, international organizations, think tanks, the private sector and civil society jointly assessed the quality and state of democracy around the world and discussed transformative ideas and practices that could contribute to preventing its decline.

 

The policy dialogue launched the NGD Project, a Club de Madrid-led, two-year, multi-stakeholder process that will progressively identify key elements and develop both regional and global action-oriented agendas aimed at advancing democracy. The Bertelsmann Stiftung, one of our main NGD partners, drafted preliminary regional reports on recent trends and prospects in democratic development. These were then reviewed and enriched by NGD regional partners including the Atlantic Council, Observer Research Foundation , FRIDE, Carnegie Middle-East Center, FLACSO network in Latin America and the Institute for Security Studies.

 

Working group discussions and plenary sessions during the policy dialogue offered additional elements relevant to a diagnosis of the current state and the future of democracy and have been compiled in the following report:

Conclusions form the Policy Dialogue “Democracy and Human Rights in Decline? A Call to Action

 

See the Flickr Photo Gallery of the Policy Dialogue at https://www.flickr.com/photos/clubdemadrid/

E-Book: Conference “Democracy and Human Rights in Decline? A call for action

Democracy and Human Rights in Decline? A Call to Action,” is a Policy Dialogue co-organized by the Club de Madrid (CdM) and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center), and hosted by the European University Institute (EUI) taking place November 24-25, 2014 in Florence, Italy. The conference will serve as the launch of the two-year multi-stakeholder Next Generation Democracy (NGD) Project.

For more information about the confence, download the E-Book here

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