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banner_future-of-democracy.jpegFuture of Democracy

Around the world, democracy is being challenged as never before. Many Western democracies, including the United States, face significant democratic backlash at home. Countries such as Russia and China, whose institutions developed outside the post-war democratic consensus, are becoming increasingly powerful. Authoritarian states are proliferating. And new technologies are fueling the spread of disinformation and empowering autocrats and extremists. The Future of Democracy program expands understanding of how to strengthen democracy and the democratic world order. Our work involves multiple specialties designed to better understand urgent threats to democracy and democratic representation at all levels of governance, while suggesting practical solutions and supporting new generations of thought leaders.


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Is the U.S. Headed Toward Civil War? (Podcast)
Jan. 3, 2022 | Lindsay Morgan interviews Barbara Walter
On the anniversary of the January 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, many are asking whether increased political violence is in the United States’ future. In a new episode of the Talking Policy podcast, we talk with Barbara Walter about her new book, How Civil Wars Start, and about the factors that increase the likelihood that countries will turn to violence, and their growing presence in American life.

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Elections Are Under Threat—How Can We Protect Them? (Podcast)
Sept. 28, 2021 | Lindsay Morgan interviews Lauren Prather
Elections are a core component of democracy, but the integrity of elections is under threat—globally and in the United States. In the latest episode of Talking Policy, Lauren Prather, an assistant professor of political science at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, discusses U.S. efforts to promote democracy globally through election monitoring; considers whether international election monitors could strengthen U.S. elections; and answers questions on the threat of meddling. Lauren is part of an IGCC project looking at the rise of authoritarian international organizations.

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Turning the Tools of the Liberal International Order Upside Down (Podcast)
Sept. 7, 2021 | Lindsay Morgan interviews Christina Cottiero
Multilateral international organizations are a key part of the rules-based global liberal order, facilitating global and regional cooperation, and shared notions of human rights, democracy, and capitalism. But the number and influence of regional international organizations (RIOs) with powerful authoritarian members is on the rise, helping to stall democratization and promote autocratic regimes. In this episode of Talking Policy, IGCC fellow Christina Cottiero charts the growth of authoritarian RIOs since the end of World War II and analyzes their pathways for influence, including through election monitoring, peacekeeping, and development assistance.

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The Rise of Authoritarian Regional International Organizations
Aug. 12, 2021 | IGCC Working Paper
The number and influence of regional international organizations (RIOs) with powerful authoritarian members is on the rise, helping stall democratization and preserve autocratic regimes. This working paper by Stephan Haggard and Christina Cottiero charts the growth of authoritarian RIOs since the end of World War II and analyzes their pathways for influence, including through election monitoring, peacekeeping, and development assistance.

Swearing in ceremony of President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad. Photo courtesy of Paul Kagame.

Not Free or Credible: Why Regional Election Observers Failed Chad and Benin
April 22, 2021 | Christina Cottiero
Welcoming election observation missions has become routine for governments organizing polls around the world. But political scientists and policy experts are increasingly raising concerns about whether and when election observers are actually free to write fair reports. A significant number of regional organizations’ post-election reports do not reflect the reality described by citizens and media coverage. Instead, they gloss over repressive tactics that incumbents use months or years ahead of elections to predetermine their outcomes.

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A Disinformation Research Agenda
June 3, 2021  | IGCC News
Despite growing concern about the threat misinformation and disinformation pose to democracy and public health, research on digital mis/disinformation is still in its infancy. On April 7, 2021, IGCC and the Empirical Studies of Conflict project, hosted a symposium to better understand the political economy of mis/disinformation, and to formulate a research agenda. Part of a new IGCC initiative on mis/disinformation, the symposium brought together academics from universities and think tanks and experts from leading digital and social media platforms, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

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The Disinformation Threat—and What to Do About It (Podcast)
May 12, 2021 | Lindsay Morgan interviews Jacob Shapiro
Manipulation and deception have always been a part of politics. But misinformation and disinformation are flourishing in the digital age, with social media, and new technologies like artificial intelligence, making fake content easier to create and disseminate. In this interview, IGCC expert Jacob Shapiro, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University and co-director of IGCC’s new research initiative on disinformation, talks about what disinformation is, who’s doing it and why, and what can be done about it.