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.

Designing an Operating System for Democracy

Can an Argentine startup reinvent governance through a smartphone app?

The Syrian Opposition Is Disappearing From Facebook Hamid Khatib/Reuters

The Syrian Opposition Is Disappearing From Facebook

Social media was one of the first refuges for Syria’s non-violent activists. Now they’re getting kicked off.

The Wanted Man Behind Ukraine's Protests-on-Wheels Reuters/Gleb Garanich

The Wanted Man Behind Ukraine's Protests-on-Wheels

Dmytro Bulatov vanished at the height of the Euromaidan uprising. He's now resurfaced—bruised, battered, and telling a harrowing tale.

The Hand-Drawn Faces of Ukraine's Uprising Oleksandr Kom'yakhov/RFE

The Hand-Drawn Faces of Ukraine's Uprising

An artist sketches the ordinary people behind the Euromaidan protests.

Report: Global Freedom Has Been Declining for Nearly a Decade Reuters

Report: Global Freedom Has Been Declining for Nearly a Decade

A third of the world's population lives in countries without political rights and civil liberties, according to a new study.

The Syrian Shadow Government the World Forgot Saad Abobrahim/Reuters

The Syrian Shadow Government the World Forgot

In 2011, an upstart group in Damascus began charting a pluralistic future for the country. Now the organization is a shell of its former self.

We Hacked North Korea With Balloons and USB Drives Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

We Hacked North Korea With Balloons and USB Drives

An airborne challenge to Kim Jong Un’s information monopoly

The U.S. Is Giving Up on Middle East Democracy—and That's a Mistake Reuters

The U.S. Is Giving Up on Middle East Democracy—and That's a Mistake

In prioritizing security over democracy promotion, the Obama administration is failing to address the root causes of extremism in the region.

Is Egypt About to Explode—Again? Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Is Egypt About to Explode—Again?

The intense volatility of the country's political and security conflicts

The Political Education of a Techie Dissident Reuters

The Political Education of a Techie Dissident

Imprisoned activist Ahmed Maher is now measuring Egypt's transition to democracy in decades, not months or even years. 

What Europe Means to Ukraine's Protesters Reuters

What Europe Means to Ukraine's Protesters

Ask people why they're camped out in Kiev's streets, and you'll get a multitude of answers. Will that doom the protest movement? 

How Russian TV Is Covering Ukraine's Protests Reuters

How Russian TV Is Covering Ukraine's Protests

If you believe state media, the protesters in Kiev are depraved, Christmas-hating rabble-rousers driven to the streets by bad weather.

The Remarkable History Behind Ukraine's Toppled Lenin Statue REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

The Remarkable History Behind Ukraine's Toppled Lenin Statue

In the largest demonstrations since the country's Orange Revolution, protesters tore down the symbol of Soviet influence.

Ukraine's Threat to Putin Reuters

Ukraine's Threat to Putin

Why the protests in Kiev could deal a major blow to official corruption in Russia

Biden's Important Message for Human Rights in China Reuters

Biden's Important Message for Human Rights in China

Though perhaps impolite to his Chinese hosts, the vice president's calls for transparency and accountability were necessary and politically valuable. 

'Who, If Not Me?' Why One Ukrainian Activist Is Protesting Kateryna Kruk/Twitter

'Who, If Not Me?' Why One Ukrainian Activist Is Protesting

"We stand days and nights on frost not to be part of Europe, but TO BE," Kateryna Kruk says.

Sandwiches and Sleeping Bags: Inside Ukraine's Opposition HQ Reuters

Sandwiches and Sleeping Bags: Inside Ukraine's Opposition HQ

Protesters have seized whole streets of the capital, recruiting their own doctors and security guards.

Joseph Biden to the Chinese: Stand Up to Your Government Reuters

Joseph Biden to the Chinese: Stand Up to Your Government

The vice president's jocular style and unpretentious manner have made him a popular figure in China. But were his comments wise? 

Meet the Brains Behind Ukraine's Massive Protests Reuters

Meet the Brains Behind Ukraine's Massive Protests

Organizers include an anarchist, an ex-TV host, and a former boxing champion.

Should a Bloomberg Executive Host a Press-Freedom Dinner? Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Should a Bloomberg Executive Host a Press-Freedom Dinner?

In light of the news agency's recent controversy in China, a former Committee to Protect Journalists honoree has launched a formal complaint about Daniel Doctoroff's involvement in the banquet.

Does the U.S. Really Have the Power to Promote Democracy in Egypt? Reuters

Does the U.S. Really Have the Power to Promote Democracy in Egypt?

It's time we revisit our assumptions about America's ability to influence the country's politics.

China’s Intensifying Suppression of Foreign Journalism Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

China’s Intensifying Suppression of Foreign Journalism

By refusing to grant visas to foreign correspondents and by pressuring publications to spike critical stories, Beijing has made it increasingly difficult for reporters to operate in the country. 

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