The Democracy Report
The Atlantic's coverage of social and political change in North Africa, in the Middle East, and around the world

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Introduction

An unexpected wave of democratization reshaped the world not so long ago. Could it happen again now?

The Future of Democracy in the Middle East: Islamist and Illiberal

Across the region, power struggles mask a more fundamental divide over the meaning of the modern nation-state.

Should Citizens Have a Right to Rebel?

In a fifth of the world's nations, people are legally allowed to resist leaders who have overstepped their bounds.

Democracy's Deepening Recession

Around the world, the advance of freedom hinges on "swing states." And they're swinging in the wrong direction.

The (Fake) Conspiracy to Overthrow the World's Autocrats

For leaders like Putin, the true threat comes from the forces fighting for democracy in their countries.

From The Archives

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Islam

Can democracy take root in a predominantly Islamic part of the world? Atlantic contributors from the early to the late twentieth century take up the question.

Islam and Liberal Democracy

Is Islam by its very nature antithetical to the development of democratic institutions? A distinguished historian contemplates this difficult question, one whose answer is fraught with consequence for several troubled regions of the world

Was Democracy Just a Moment?

The global triumph of democracy was to be the glorious climax of the American Century. But democracy may not be the system that will best serve the world—or even the one that will prevail in places that now consider themselves bastions of freedom.

What Kind of Democracy?

At a time when citizens of a number of countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere were demanding the right to self-determination and converting their governments from other power systems to democracies, author Raymond D. Gastil addressed the question of the degree to which civil liberties within a democracy require protection.

China Emergent

In the midst of World War II, as China's Nationalist leader, Chiang Kai-shek, struggled against Japanese invaders from without and the Communist movement from within, his Wellesley College–educated wife decried the exploitation of China by the West and delineated a vision for a more democratic future.

A Plea for the Recognition of the Chinese Republic

About a year after the revolutionary overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, Ching Chun Wang, a Chinese railway official and representative of the emergent republic, makes a case for international recognition.

Do Quotas for Female Politicians Work?

30 percent of Brazilian candidates must be women. But far fewer actually get elected.

What Revolution Looks Like on Instagram

What Revolution Looks Like on Instagram

A computer scientist makes sense of 13,000 pictures taken during the 144 hours that changed Ukraine.

The Secret History of Hong Kong's Democratic Stalemate

The Secret History of Hong Kong's Democratic Stalemate

Recently declassified records show how both the British and the Chinese benefitted from the territory's unsettled status, even while today's protests hint that it can't last forever.

Don't Call Hong Kong's Protests an 'Umbrella Revolution'

Don't Call Hong Kong's Protests an 'Umbrella Revolution'

How the language of revolt hides demonstrators' true goals

The Americans Who Inspired Hong Kong's Protesters

The Americans Who Inspired Hong Kong's Protesters

Sometimes the best way for the U.S. to promote democracy abroad is to struggle for it at home.

The Geography of Hong Kong's Protests

The Geography of Hong Kong's Protests

The territory's residents are demanding democracy in intersections, not central squares.

China Won't Back Down in Hong Kong

China Won't Back Down in Hong Kong

Its leaders may think they have little to lose by cracking down on protesters. They're wrong.

What I Learned About Afghan Politics by Selling Rugs

What I Learned About Afghan Politics by Selling Rugs

A carpet dealer from Kabul reflects on the inauguration of his country's new president.

Why Hong Kong's Protesters Have Their Hands Up

Why Hong Kong's Protesters Have Their Hands Up

Demonstrators, some of whom have never heard of Ferguson, show their peaceful intentions with their palms.

'When We Felt Threatened, We Opened Umbrellas and Raised Our Hands'
Scotland's Democratic Revolution

Scotland's Democratic Revolution

The Scottish bid for independence could set a new precedent for separatist movements around the world.

A 'Coup' in the Kingdom in the Sky

A 'Coup' in the Kingdom in the Sky

Confusion reigns in the tiny African country of Lesotho.

Designing an Operating System for Democracy

Designing an Operating System for Democracy

Can an Argentine startup reinvent governance through a smartphone app?

The Lost Graphic Designs of a Short-Lived Democracy

The Lost Graphic Designs of a Short-Lived Democracy

History nearly forgot the avant-garde, sometimes agitational publishing culture that flourished in the Republic of Latvia between world wars.

Is There a Future for Ukraine?

Is There a Future for Ukraine?

DNA nationalism, Euro-idealism, crony capitalism: Which utopian vision will win out?

The Graffiti That Made Germany Better

The Graffiti That Made Germany Better

Berlin's architecture blends the tragedy of the past with redemption in the present and renewal in the future.

Our Man in Baghdad

Our Man in Baghdad

How America empowered Nouri al-Maliki—and then failed to keep that power in check.

Dick Cheney Just Buried the Bush Doctrine

Dick Cheney Just Buried the Bush Doctrine

The former vice president rejected democracy-promotion in the Middle East. And today's conservatives agree with him.

'There Will Be No World Cup': What's at Stake in Brazil

'There Will Be No World Cup': What's at Stake in Brazil

I witnessed protests before South Africa's tournament, too. But something bigger is happening in the land of soccer.

Does Spain Really Need a King?

Does Spain Really Need a King?

Juan Carlos helped vanquish fascism. But that's a distant memory for Spanish youth.

'Ukraine Is Run by a Guy Who Makes Chocolate'

'Ukraine Is Run by a Guy Who Makes Chocolate'

Interpreting the meaning of an election conceived in chaos

The Thailand Exception: Are Coups a Thing of the Past?

The Thailand Exception: Are Coups a Thing of the Past?

Bangkok may be the coup capital of the world, but it doesn't have much competition these days.

The Biggest Story in Photos

Nikon Small World 2014

Why We Tend to Show Our Left Side in Pictures
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