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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


The News Journal

Ted Kaufman, former U.S. senator from Delaware, recently co-led an NDI pre-election mission to Ukraine to assess the country’s preparations for the presidential, parliamentary and local elections scheduled for May 25. In an op-ed for the News Journal, he writes about the pre-election mission as well as the upcoming Ukrainian elections.

“We were able to get a good snapshot of how Ukraine has been functioning since the successful ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych after the drama of the deadly ‘Maidan’ demonstrations in Kyiv’s central square….All eight members of the delegation came away from the meetings with a strong conviction that, barring foreign interference, Ukraine could have free, fair and transparent elections.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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