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  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: This year’s Democracy Report shows that the trend of a third wave autocratization – the decline of democratic regime traits – continues and now affects 24 countries. When we weight levels of democracy by population size – because democracy is rule by the people and it matters how many of them are concerned – it emerges that almost one third of the world’s population live in countries undergoing autocratization. Yet democracy still prevails in a majority of countries in the world (99 countries, 55 percent). This section analyses the state of democracy in the world in 2018 and developments since 1972, with an emphasis on the last 10 years. Our analysis builds on the 2019 release of the V-Dem dataset.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Developing World, Democracy, Populism
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Ukraine, India, Brazil
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: The current Egyptian political scene reveals an important paradox: since its ascendancy to power in 2013, the military-led authoritarian government has not faced significant challenges from civil society despite systematic hu- man rights abuses and continuous societal crises. Apart from limited protests by labor activists, student movements, and members of syndicates, Egyptians have mostly refrained from protesting, instead hoping that the government will improve their living conditions despite a rising poverty rate of 33 percent, an inflation rate between 11 and 12 percent, and unemployment at eight percent. This popular reluctance to challenge the authoritarian government has continued to shape Egypt’s reality since the collapse of the short-lived democratization process from 2011–2013.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy, Rule of Law, Protests, Dictatorship
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Dana Moss
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: Transnational social movements play a critical role in the fight against authoritarianism, and a growing field of diaspora studies shows that exiles, émigrés, emigrants, and refugees are especially well positioned to undermine dictatorships from abroad. Given their cross-border ties, diasporas often mobilize against abuses taking place in their homelands, move aid to war zones and refugee camps, and fuel revolutionary social change. Exiles who gain the right to protest and lobby in their places of settlement can also become powerful players in international relations. Iraqi expatriate Ahmed Chalabi, who helped to justify the United States-led invasion of Iraq by fabricating evidence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, is just one example of how influential exiles can be when exacting revenge on the autocrats who abused them.
  • Topic: Diaspora, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Suki Kim
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: Suki Kim is author of the New York Times bestseller Without You, Tere Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korean Elite. She is the only writer ever to have lived undercover in North Korea for immersive journalism. Her novel Te Interpreter was the winner of the PEN Open Book Award and a fnalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and her nonfction has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and the New Republic, where she is a contributing editor. She has been awarded Guggenheim, Fulbright, Open Society, and New America fellowships, the American Academy in Berlin Prize, and was a Ferris Professor of journalism at Princeton University. Her TED Talk has drawn millions of viewers, and her essay on fear appears in Te Best American Essays 2018.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy, Freedom of Expression, Journalism, Repression
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Egypt’s new authoritarian regime is rapidly closing the public space—cracking down on autonomous civil society and independent political parties, asphyxiating the practice of pluralist politics, and thwarting citizens’ peaceful and active engagement in public affairs. The government’s primary strategy is to institute wide-scale repression through lawmaking and justify its behavior through conspiratorial and populist narratives. With unprecedented resolve, it has passed new protest and terrorism laws, introduced legal amendments targeting nongovernmental organizations, and extended the military court’s jurisdiction. Essentially, the regime is adapting lawmaking for its own purposes. To fight against the tide, those challenging the system need to fully understand how.
  • Topic: Governance, Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Egypt
  • Author: Ofra Bengio
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The Kurds challenge the self-perceptions of the nation-states in which they reside: Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq; and they have played a crucial role in combatting Islamic State. This study analyzes the rivalry and interdependence among the four parts of Kurdistan as well as the dynamics of their relations with regional countries and the international community. With the entire region in a state of flux, will the Kurds fulfill their dream for a state or autonomous existence of their own?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War, Self Determination, Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Alexander Henley
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Lebanese religious leaders are often treated as authentic representatives of their sects and are given broad powers over religious affairs. However, their leadership is not organic, nor are they necessarily popular, as these individuals are trained and selected by elite institutions. These figures do not incite sectarian hatred, and even aim to reduce it, but the way they are empowered and their monopoly on spiritual matters inhibit social integration among various religious communities and reinforce sectarian divisions.
  • Topic: Religion, Sectarianism, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Lebanon