image of a compass

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


Hromadske TV

Ted Kaufman, former U.S. senator from Delaware and co-leader of NDI's pre-election mission to Ukraine, recently gave an interview with Hromadske TV where he discussed the findings of the NDI mission and the country's upcoming May 25 elections.

Read More
The Atlantic

In Afghanistan, where 68 percent of the population is under the age of 25, a major storyline in last weekend’s election was the participation of Afghan youth, who election officials predicted would make up the majority of voters. Despite unappealing candidates and vows by the Taliban to violently disrupt the electoral process, the youth were actively involved in the election.

“The younger generation's emergence as a powerful political force has gone beyond symbolic actions. The National Democratic Institute notes that they are the reason campaigning via social media and mobile technology have, for the first time in Afghan electoral history, become critical components of the race (in 2013 there were 2.4 million Internet users in the country, up from 2,000 during the 2004 election). In March, Afghanistan's election commission reported that young people constituted a staggering 70 percent of provincial council candidates across the country.”

In a country that “has been dominated by warlords, ethnic conflicts, and civil wars,” the youth “appear to be more concerned with building the country’s future than litigating its past.”

Read More



In Tunisia, political parties “have begun a parliamentary debate on an election law, the final step before setting a ballot date to complete a transition to democracy in the country that lit the fuse of Arab popular uprisings.”

The debate over the law, which started on Monday, is expected to last as long as two weeks, while the Islamist Ennahda party and the secular Nida Tournes party try to agree on “whether to hold separate presidential and parliamentary elections.”

Once the law is passed, a date for the elections, expected to go ahead later this year, will be set. This “will be only the second ballot since the 2011 revolt that ousted autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and the first since the adoption of a new constitution praised internationally as a democratic model.” Election authorities are “seeking to register more than 4.2 million voters” for the elections.

Read More
The Hill

Since 2011, movements for change have swept the world, with people voicing their desire for democracy and better freedoms in countries like Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela. And these movements are connected, though not by a common ideology or leader. “What unites the protesters is their yearning for human rights and dignity. These movements are a response to extensive corruption, impunity, and political favoritism.”

“It is precisely this universality of desire for fundamental rights that strikes fear in authoritarian leaders….But no dictator’s fall is inevitable. And even the fall of an authoritarian does not mean democracy will follow….A democratic transition takes savvy local leaders willing to subsume personal gain for the good of the country, a strong constitutional foundation on which to build a new government, and investment in training and infrastructure such as an independent judiciary, knowledgeable civil society, and a reliable police force.”

As a result, the U.S. and other democracies must support such countries in their transitions. They “must consistently speak out in support of universal values and condemn abuses, no matter where they happen,” and maintain “[r]obust foreign assistance programs in support of democracy and human rights.”

Read More