Democracy is a process, not an event.
When Indonesia emerged in 1998 from more than three decades of dictatorship under Suharto's "New Order" regime, some argued that its chances of establishing a successful democracy appeared remote. An ethnically diverse country of 245 million people speaking more than 40 languages and spread among 17,000 islands, Indonesia had little experience with democratic governance. Despite these obstacles, the country is building key institutions of democracy — national and provincial legislatures, an independent court system, a civil bureaucracy and a multiparty political system. NDI was one of the first international groups to assist political parties, the legislature and citizen groups on political reform in the immediate post-Suharto era. As the country approached its first democratic elections, the Institute brought in international experts to comment on draft electoral laws and helped civic leaders build a nationwide effort to monitor more than 300,000 polling stations. NDI also provided analysis on constitutional development, worked with political party agendas, and assisted the efforts of civil society groups to monitor local development programs and analyze local budgets and expenditures. Indonesia is still in the early stages of its democratic development and continues to confront corruption, discrimination and the emergence of militant groups. But one sign of its commitment to a democratic system was the country's establishment of the Institute for Peace and Democracy in Bali, which, with NDI assistance, has been working to support democracy throughout Asia. Read more about NDI's programs in Indonesia»
In Haiti, NDI's Civic Forum program, which since 1998 has focused on democratic principles and practices, has gone a long way toward strengthening the relationships between local governments and citizens. Civic Forum has led to the creation of a network of 245 Initiative Committees (ICs) throughout the country. Representing more than 1,000 organizations, the ICs have carried out hundreds of projects including construction of health clinics, schools and roads; job skills training; cholera prevention; HIV/AIDS education; and disaster relief. When a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the island in 2010, the ICs were well-positioned to organize relief efforts: assessing damage, helping resettle the homeless and working with local authorities to distribute aid. The groups also engaged Haitians from all sectors of society to develop a plan for reconstruction and worked with elected officials at the regional level to help carry it out. Read more about NDI's programs in Haiti»
Even in the most unlikely situations, activists struggle to build democratic skills and culture. In liberated areas of Syria, citizen-led groups, called local councils, have been formed to deal with immediate community concerns, such as policing, electricity and garbage collection, as the civil war rages. In addition to providing needed services, these efforts address concepts of governance, representative politics and popular political participation. By working together across sectarian lines, which are less pronounced at the local level, the councils are creating models of diversity and tolerance. NDI has worked with Syrian democrats since 2005 and has been engaged with opposition members since the conflict began in 2011. In 2013 alone, NDI worked with more than 2,000 activists from structures for basic political representation at the local level. Read more about NDI's programs in Syria»