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The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Democracy Dialogue

NDI President Kenneth Wollack (center), with Lorne Craner (left), the president of the International Republican Institute, and Ambassador Robert Neumann at a panel discussion.

Support for democracy has been a priority of U.S. foreign policy since the earliest days of the republic, and its advantages over other forms of government have come to be accepted globally. But there are many manifestations of democratic governance – how it is achieved and how it delivers for its citizens – that are the subject of continuing debate. To help illuminate this debate, NDI has collected commentary from its own experts and others along with some of the key documents upon which democracy programs are based.

Our Perspectives

Commentary from NDI Board members and staff on democracy promotion generally and on specific NDI programs. | Read more »

News and Views

Commentary from experts on the directions and challenges of democracy promotion programs. | Read more »

Key Documents

A library of the basic documents upon which democracy programs are based. | Read more »

New Additions



As the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were adopted by the UN General Assembly, Sandra Pepera, NDI’s director of Gender, Women and Democracy program, called attention to three missing indicators that are critical to ensure women’s participation in political life and public decision-making.

Each of the seventeen goals, which replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), have development targets that countries will work toward in the next 15 years. While the SDGs improve substantially on the MDGs when it comes to women’s empowerment, Pepera writes that SDG number five lacks critical standards of evaluation that would create accountability when it comes gender equality in politics.

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International Foundation for Electoral Systems

By William R. Sweeney, Jr., Ambassador Mark Green and Kenneth Wollack 

Despite the global trend toward democracy since the 1980s, scholars have chronicled more recent setbacks – often referred to as the “democracy recession." But the news is not all bleak. There have been remarkable democratic advances in recent years in places as diverse as Indonesia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Ghana and Guyana. And U.S. democracy assistance in these and other countries has contributed to peaceful and credible elections, the development of active civil societies, competitive political parties and more accountable legislatures. Reflecting American efforts in promoting democratic development around the world, the Obama administration announced in July that the U.S. will assume the next two-year presidency of the Community of Democracies after being unanimously endorsed by the 27 nations that serve on the Community's Governing Council. This can become an important U.S. initiative in rallying greater international support for fundamental political and human rights. The International Day of Democracy is an appropriate moment to recognize the 15th anniversary of the Community of Democracies and the U.S.’ new leadership role.   

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All Africa

Last May, I shared in an extraordinary moment. I had the privilege, together with many leaders from across Africa, of bearing witness to the first peaceful, democratic transition of power between two parties in Nigeria.

I traveled to Lagos earlier this year to emphasize that for the United States, Nigeria is an increasingly important strategic partner with a critical role to play in the security and prosperity of the region. I also said that it was imperative that these elections set a new standard for democracy across the continent.

There is no question that this is a decisive moment for democracy in Africa. Later this month, four countries – Guinea, Tanzania, Côte d'Ivoire, and the Central African Republic – are scheduled to hold presidential elections, and soon after we hope to see elections in Burkina Faso. People across Africa must seize this opportunity to make their voices heard; and leaders across the continent must listen.

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Foreign Affairs

The recent op-ed by Harvard Professor Kristen Weld credits NDI with helping push for new electoral reforms that would support a number of democratic policies in Guatemala.

A shift in citizens’ demands of their elected officials is evident following the recent resignation and arrest of the president and vice president of Guatemala.

With support from NDI, the Guatemalan Working Group on the Reform of the Law on Elections and Political Parties introduced a package of 85 reforms to the Guatemalan Congress this past July. This diverse group consists of universities, the private and public sectors, the Catholic Church and election monitors. The reforms introduce new term limits, party finance reform, candidate quotas for women and minorities and greater oversight ability for the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in country’s elections. While, Professor Weld opines that the reforms are a step in the right direction, she believes the reforms do not go far enough.

The electoral reforms are part of a broader movement led by Guatemalan civil society. In a recent blog, Sara Barker, NDI’s resident program manager in Guatemala, said that diverse groups “came together around common causes that impact the entire country -- an end to corruption and impunity, reforms to the political and electoral system, and the resignation of the president.”

Barker believes that the citizens of Guatemala are ready for change and that their recent victory and new hope will allow them to work towards creating change. 

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