What’s driving South Asia’s democratic backsliding?


South Asian democracies enter the 2023-2024 electoral years in a precarious state, as the rise of illiberal regimes, corrupted electoral processes, and more has led to democratic backsliding, the International Republican Institute reports:

  • In Bangladesh, the ruling Awami League has been in power since 2009, but recent economic stress has sparked large opposition protests over the last four months, almost a year before scheduled elections.
  • In the Maldives, the 2023 presidential election will be held as the main opposition candidate, former President Abdulla Yameen, is imprisoned for money laundering and bribery. The governing, pro-democracy Maldivian Democratic Party is fractured between President Ibrahim Solih and Parliamentary Speaker Mohamed Nasheed.
  • Finally, the administration in Pakistan, in power only since April 2022, has been made deeply unpopular by the country’s growing economic crisis as well as ousted former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s large and growing support base and attempts to force early elections.

Join on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at the IRI Headquarters, 1225 I St. NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005, from 11:00 AM until 12:15 PM ET or online for a panel discussion surrounding democracy in South Asia.


Geoffrey Macdonald Ph.D., Senior Advisor, Asia Division, International Republican Institute


Brett Sidelinger, Resident Program Director, Maldives, International Republican Institute

Kregg Halstead, Resident Program Director, Bangladesh, International Republican Institute

Nargis Khan, Resident Program Director, Pakistan, International Republican Institute


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