IRI Staff on Helping Democracy Where it is Needed With Understanding Not Blinkers

Patrick Quirk PhD., Vice President for Strategy at the International Republican Institute, and Santiago Starker, its Resident Program Director in Nigeria, have written a thoughtful analysis of how to approach hybrid (aspirational) democracies.

Their ideas will help to guide Opposition International focus it’s efforts. For example, Ukraine has already an abundance of democracy assistance and Sudan needs basic peacebuilding more than party building. They discuss three countries where OI has priority efforts underway, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Bangladesh.

I returned in March after eight months in the Philippines. My dealings were mostly at the provincial level. There is a good news story to be told as to the seriousness with which leaders at all levels approach democratic reform.

The recent election in Nigeria proved something of a disappointment in that the considerable money, personnel and effort put into the electoral process failed to reassure the parties that a free and fair election was held. Quirk and Starker have the real story as to how the international community mishandled election result communications. The parties now wrestle fitfully with the responsibilities of the roles of government and opposition.

Bangladesh is a major challenge with just six months to an election likely at the start of 2024. The party lineup, who’s running and who’s boycotting, is unsettled. The media and civil society are restive. In the struggle for control over polling centres between the Election Commission and party constituency organizations, the latter has the advantage. The stakes are high.

In raw demographics, the shift of Bangladesh (160 million) from an electoral autocracy to a democratizing nation would represent the largest democratic advance in a generation.

Opposition International has a special Facebook group page for Bangladesh, New posts daily featuring translations into English of Bangla Insider and Road to Election by Dr. Nazmul Kalimullah, Executive Director of Janipop, occasional reprints from South Asian Perspectives edited former DHM Jon Danilowicz, and select stories chosen by our volunteers in Dhaka and around the country.

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