August 2008 Bulletin

Democracy Digest – a few changes……

Not all Democracy Digest subscribers will be aware that the digest is now principally taking shape as a blog. While we plan to continue to distribute the digest as an e-bulletin, you can get a daily update by subscribing to the digest RSS feed here.

Inside this Issue:
See Also:




 An Ethical Framework for ‘Strategically Vital” Democracy Assistance

Despite its detractors, promoting democracy has retained robust bipartisan support, at least in the United States. In his recent Berlin speech, Barack Obama highlighted the domino effect and moral imperative of democratization. When the German people tore down the Berlin Wall – “a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope” – other walls fell. “From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened,” he said.

“If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope,” he continued, going on to challenge his European audience to “stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe.” 

Similarly, President George W. Bush recently reiterated his commitment to the Freedom Agenda invoking those “brave dissidents and democracy activists who helped secure freedom’s victory in the great ideological struggle of the 20th century” and noted that his Administration had increased the National Endowment of Democracy‘s budget by more than 150 percent. He had instructed senior U.S. officials serving in undemocratic states to keep in regular contact with political dissidents and democracy activists.

Robust bipartisan support is one reason why the next U.S. administration will inherit a $1.7 billion democracy assistance budget, reflecting a strong commitment to promoting democracy and human rights, a recent Freedom House report suggests. But the report, A Legacy of Support for Freedom?, criticizes proposals to cut funds for U.S. democracy promotion centers provided by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor and USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, and argues that requested funding cuts to Russia and China will “adversely affect the work of democracy and human rights advocates” in countries experiencing “diminishing freedom domestically”.

Noting the “confusion and skepticism” about democracy assistance following events in Iraq and the Hamas election victory in the Palestinian Authority, a new strategy paper from the International Republican Institute’s Lorne W. Craner and Kenneth Wollack of the National Democratic Institute makes the case for democracy promotion as a bipartisan, multilateral and strategically vital dimension of US foreign policy.

The next US Administration should enshrine democracy promotion as a key pillar of foreign policy and maintain congressionally-initiated funding for democracy assistance in Iraq, Wollack and Craner argue…..READ MORE  

 Back to Top


Egypt’s Bloggers and Labor Activists Make Common Cause

Over a dozen Egyptian “Facebook activists” were arrested last week, as authorities continued to suppress a network resulting from a recent textile workers’ strike. Those detained included Ahmed Maher whose Facebook group that supported the strikers attracted some 60,000 people.

Egypt’s crackdown on Facebook activism reflects the authorities’ anxiety that protests have escalated, generating perhaps the biggest wave of strikes since the 1940s and that strikers protesting against economic hardship are starting to form independent unions, raise political demands and form links with civil society activists. Bloggers ” have taken on the role of bridging the gap between civil society’s desire for democracy and workers’ demands for better pay and working conditions,” according to one recent report.

The state is also disturbed at the growing use of the Internet for political ends. The Muslim Brotherhood‘s youth wing is the latest group to establish a Facebook group.

 Back to Top




Turkish Democracy Triumphs – Narrowly – Over Judicial Coup

Turkey’s ruling AK Party will not be banned, even though a majority of judges on a Constitutional Court panel believed it had undermined the secular constitution. But the party will suffer cuts in state funding.

This week’s decision has been widely welcomed as a victory for democracy, albeit one by the narrowest of margins. Six of the court’s eleven judges voted for a ban, only one short of the votes required.

“The biggest reason for the court’s decision may be rooted in hard parliamentary arithmetic,” notes The Economist. Even if the party had been closed and its leaders banned, a large majority of its parliamentarians would have kept their seats, convened under a new name and established a new government.

Secularist expectations that the prospect of a ban would generate mass defections proved illusory. The Economist quotes a European diplomat’s observation that “the secularists appear to have finally grasped that the only way to get rid of the AK is at the ballot box.”

A ban would have undercut efforts to promote reform and democracy in the Middle East, warned F. Stephen Larrabee, co-author of a recent analysis of Turkish Islam.

Back to Top


Islamist Parties: Bona Fide Democrats? 

“Instead of worrying whether Islamists are real democrats, our goal should be to help fortify democratic and liberal institutions and actors so that no group – Islamist or otherwise – can subvert them,” argues Tareq Masoud. He does not accept that Islamist parties are poised to win free and fair elections, or that political participation will necessarily induce moderation and pragmatism.

Contributors to a Journal of Democracy symposium on Islamist parties and democracy, Masoud defends Arab democrats from charges of elitism and political timidity. Authoritarian regimes routinely harass and deny political space to liberal democratic forces.  

“Rather than wondering whether Islamists are not as bad as we think they are,” he argues, “those who wish to see democratic reform in the region would do better to bend their efforts toward lifting the government yoke off parties whose democratic bona fides are not the object of anguished speculation.”                            

  Back to Top


Democracy Deficit Fails to Benefit Arab Democrats

The Arab world is “a juxtaposition of many ideologies, identities, and governance

Systems,” a new report from the Henry L. Stimson Center suggests. To understand current political trends it is essential to employ “a multi-level analysis that encompasses the wide range of identities and ideologies, from personal and tribal identity to concepts of statehood and nationhood.”

A vibrant public discourse is taking place across the Arab world, argues Lebanese analyst Rami Khouri. “The region is in the process of defining itself,” he says, “and more actors than ever before have a voice in that turbulent process.”

Liberal democrats are probably the weakest of the several principal ideological forces operating across the Middle East, Khouri suggests. Advocates of home-grown Arab democracy and the rule of law are principally represented by civil society activists who demand participatory, accountable governance based on the rule of law. Their Western orientation has “proved to be problematic“, he euphemistically notes, leading them to be “criticized, ostracized, or hounded by governments and other political forces.”

  Back to Top


China’s ‘Bifurcated Authoritarianism‘ a Challenge to Freedom Agenda

“To speak of human rights is not politics; only authoritarian and totalitarian regimes try to make it so,” according to an appeal to the International Olympic Committee by an international eminent persons group. “To speak of human rights is a duty,” the group insists, calling on the IOC to demand full access to information at the Beijing Olympics and asking athletes to express their support for Chinese dissidents.

Wei Jingsheng was one of several Chinese dissidents and human rights activists – along with Harry Wu, Rebiya Kadeer, Dr. Sasha Gong, and Bob Fu – who recently met U.S. President George W. Bush in the White House. He told him that his attendance at the Beijing Olympics is “a mistake”, but suggested that he use every opportunity to highlight human rights and the plight of political prisoners, religious believers and ethnic minorities.

But the President’s Freedom Agenda rhetoric is ill-suited to partially free countries like China, says one observer. China’s “bifurcated authoritarianism” is an attractive model as “more and more places — from Russia to Dubai to Cambodia — are beginning to embrace the combination of political repression and economic excitement rolled into one,” argues lawyer Ying Ma.

  Back to Top


Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai’s Leadership Questioned

Despite continuing attacks on opposition activists, Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are still locked in negotiations. But one observer argues that miscalculation, loss of nerve and bad counsel led Tsvangirai to hand Mugabe victory on a plate. The MDC was already split going into the elections, after a breakaway faction, led by Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube, based in western Zimbabwe, attracted many of the MDC’s professional supporters. Many of them had been alienated, argues Mugabe biographer Stephen Chan, by Tsvangirai’s performance.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s leadership of a transitional government in Zimbabwe is “non-negotiable“, his deputy Thokozani Khupe said. He was speaking after a meeting organized by civic groups and South Africa’s COSATU trade union federation. A coalition of Zimbabwean civic groups had earlier called for a transitional authority to be headed by a neutral figure.

 Back to Top


Venezuela:  Chavistas ‘Losing momentum

While President Hugo Chávez is busy in Moscow buying Russian arms, the Bolivarian Revolution was getting in trouble back home. The December 2007 rejection of proposed constitutional reforms was Chávez’s first major defeat since assuming the presidency in 1998 (click here for an interactive timeline of his ten years in office). More recently, public outrage forced him to re-submit a proposed “Cuba-style” intelligence law to the National Assembly. 

These setbacks come at a time when Chávez’s domestic popularity is declining in the face of food shortages, soaring inflation and slow economic growth, despite record oil revenues.  Internationally, the decline of Colombia’s FARC guerrilla insurgency, while far from extinguished, has aborted the dream of a cross-border Bolivarian revolution.

“The chavista movement is losing momentum,” a new analysis asserts. “It has become bureaucratic, corruption is spreading and the government’s management is poor.” Furthermore, even the much-vaunted social and welfare programs are failing to deliver. “The president’s social programs are not meeting expectations and have not empowered citizens,” notes the International Crisis Group report, Venezuela: Political Reform or Regime Demise?

It would be foolish to write off the populist president’s chances of a comeback. “Chávez has incredible political instincts,” says Venezuelan historian Fernando Coronil. “He has shown to have had, with few exceptions, the pulse of the country, to read its changing political mood better than anyone else.”

  Back to Top



Freedom to Create Prize

ARTICLE 19, the global campaign for free expression, and ArtVenture have teamed up to establish a US$100,000 Freedom to Create Prize for artists seeking to “find light in darkness and courage in truth”. The prize honors artists around the world who promote human rights and free expression and are denied their “freedom to create.”

The main prize of US$50,000 is open to artists in all creative fields, including visual and performing arts, music, design and literature. The Youth Prize of US$25,000 is for artists aged 18 or younger. The US$25,000 Imprisoned Artists Prize is for artists currently jailed because of their work. The deadline for entries is 31 October 2008. For more information, visit the ArtVenture Freedom to Create Prize website.

  Back to Top



Grants Assistant (Europe/Eurasia – National Endowment for Democracy)
The NED seeks a Grants Assistant (Europe/Eurasia) to assist grants staff with reviewing, processing, and tracking grant agreements, amendments, payments, and other financial documentation, and preparing routine correspondence and reports.  The Grants Assistant shall, amongst other duties, review and process final grant agreements, amendments, and routine correspondence, including receipt, database log-in, copying, distribution, tracking and filing. Applicants should have the following qualifications: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience; attention to detail and ability to multi-task; ability to work with minimal supervision; strong oral and written communication skills; strong team player, preferably in a multicultural environment; strong analytical skills; proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel; knowledge of MicroEdge Gifts or other relational database helpful; Russian language skills and interest in the Europe/Eurasia region preferred; qualified to work in the US. Applicants should send a resume and cover letter to Include Position 7025 in the subject line.

Various Vacancies (National Democratic Institute for International Affairs)
The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) has the following vacancies: Armenia: Resident Civic Trainer; Bangladesh: Senior Program Manager (Women’s Political Participation Expert); Côte d’Ivoire: Resident Senior Program Manager; El Salvador: Resident Program Manager, Domestic Election Monitoring Program; Iraq: Civic Organizer and Advocacy Specialist, Erbil, Iraq; Iraq: Civil Society and Election Monitoring Expert, Erbil, Iraq. For details of these and other vacancies go here.

Resident Country Director, Angola (International Republican Institute)
The International Republican Institute (IRI) has the following vacancies: Resident Program Officer, Bangladesh ; Resident Country Director, Angola; Resident Program Officer, Sudan (Juba); Resident Program Officer, Jordan. For details of these and other vacancies go here.

Country Program Director, Nigeria (American Center for International Labor Solidarity)
The American Center for International Labor Solidarity has vacancies for the following positions in the Solidarity Center HQ in Washington, DC: Program Officer I, Asia/Europe Regional Office; Program Officer: Contracts and Grants. It also has vacancies for the following overseas Field Positions; Field Technical Assistant Specialist; Country Program Director, Nigeria; Country Program Director, Kuwait. To apply, send cover letter and résumé to: Lisa Humphries, Human Resources Officer, Solidarity Center, 888 16th Street, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20006. E-mail: Fax: (202) 974-8266 The Solidarity Center also has the following vacancies: Country Program Director, West Bank – Palestinian Territories and Program Officer I or II, China Rule of Law. For full details of the above vacancies go here.  

Senior Researcher for China (Freedom House)
Freedom House is seeking highly-motivated staff for the following positions: Grants Writer — Washington, D.C.; Website Programmer — Washington, D.C.; Senior Researcher for China — Washington, D.C.; Managing Editor, English (Iran Programs) — Washington, D.C.; Senior Program Manager/ Senior Program Officer, Middle East and North Africa –Washington, D.C.; Senior Program Officer/Program Officer, Middle East Programs — Washington, D.C.; Program Officer, Exchanges — Washington, D.C.; Program Assistant for Exchanges — Washington, D.C.; Human Rights Trainer, Middle East Training Programs — Washington, D.C.; Senior Programs Manager, Africa — Washington, D.C.; Office Manager — New York, NY The organization also has the following employment opportunities overseas: Project Director — Middle East Field Office; Reforming Family Law Program Officer — Bahrain and Kuwait; Senior Central Asia Regional Technical Advisor — Kazakhstan; Finance and Accounting Officer, Reforming Family Law Program — Kuwait; Project Director — Ethiopia; Senior Program Officer — Ethiopia; Project Director — Reforming Family Law Program; Chief of Party — Kosovo; Deputy Chief of Party — Kosovo; Grants Manager — Kosovo; Outreach and Advocacy Advisor — Kosovo. Please send cover letter, resume, and salary requirement by email or fax to: Jeffrey Mosser Director of Human Resources and Administration  Fax: (202) 822-2893 For full details of these and other opportunities go here.

Chief of Party, Jordan Civil Society Program, IREX
IREX is an international nonprofit organization providing leadership and innovative programs to improve the quality of education, strengthen independent media, and foster pluralistic civil society development. IREX seeks a Chief of Party to launch and direct an upcoming civil society strengthening program in Jordan. The successful candidate will provide vision and strategic direction for the program; develop and deliver a sequenced series of activities to meet program objectives; develop and maintain effective partnerships with Jordanian civil society; serve as primary liaison with USAID/Jordan; coordinate with local, regional and international organizations active in the civil society sector; manage and mentor project staff; coordinate with home office; oversee project budgeting and ensure budget discipline; oversee monitoring, evaluation and reporting on program activities. English fluency; Arabic proficiency preferred. Submit cover letter and resume immediately. Email: Please include CSD/JOR/COP/KR in the subject line. Fax: + 1 202 628-8189 (Washington, DC).

Database/Web Developer, National Endowment for Democracy
This position, which will constitute an integral part of the IT team, is responsible for designing efficient and effective solutions using various web technologies (Microsoft SharePoint, Flash, JavaScript, MS-SQL, etc…). The Database/Web developer will also serve as a resource for internal database-driven applications and troubleshooting, as well as keep the organization updated as to new technologies and tools. Candidates should possess a Bachelor’s degree in an applicable field, with a minimum of 3 years of progressive work experience in web programming technologies, database design and usage as well as fundamental page design with an emphasis on usability. Applicants send cover letter and resume to Position # 7021 at

Program Manager for Afghanistan, IFES Democracy at Large
This position will provide administrative, contractual and financial management support to IFES Programs in Afghanistan. Responsibilities include but are not limited to preparing and tracking project budgets, oversight and management of contractual regulations, writing proposals and grant amendments with accompanying budgets, preparing financial reports for USAID, other funding agencies, and IFES senior management, representing IFES at professional gatherings and serving as a regional resource on South and South East Asia, liaising with appropriate professionals and organizations, as well as well as traveling to field office on a regular basis to oversee and monitor project activities. Candidates should apply online through the IFES website at .

Media-Public Outreach Specialist for Iraq, IFES Democracy at Large
This position will work with the IFES Public Outreach Specialist, IEAT and the IHECs Public Outreach Department to provide advice and assistance to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) of Iraq on public outreach and media. Candidate should have: a Bachelors degree if not a Masters in communications, Public Relations, or media marketing; demonstrated expertise in the development and implementation of large-scale, media and public outreach programs; familiarity with the Middle East region and if possible Arabic language skills; as well as field experience and fluency in English.

Senior Program Manager for Iraq, IFES Democracy at Large
IFES is seeking a Senior Program Manager for Iraq in Baghdad. Candidates should apply online through the IFES website at .

Dialogue Program Assistant, The Project on Middle East Democracy
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) seeks a program assistant for Dialogue Programs to assist in planning panel discussions in Washington, DC, and organizing follow-up activities for our conferences in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. For more information please email .

Grants Manager, America Abroad Media
AAM is seeking a Grants Manager to work in Washington; salary commensurate with experience. For more information please email

Center Manager and Publications Editor/Manager, Center for International Media Assistance
This position, located in Washington, includes but is not limited to: managing CIMA publications from conception of report topics to working closely with and managing writers, editing documents and overseeing documents through publication phase; organizing working groups, conferences, discussions, meetings, and public events; managing the budget; establishing and maintaining working relationships with organizations and individuals in the field; and managing contract assignments.  Candidates should have significant experience, including 10-15 years applicable experience in journalism/communications, editing and publication management; knowledge of federal government operations and financing; a well as knowledge of international media issues and/or democracy promotion programs. For more information contact, or call 202-378-9590.

  Back to Top