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?

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. 

Twitter Isn't Spreading Democracy—Democracy Is Spreading Twitter

Twitter Isn't Spreading Democracy—Democracy Is Spreading Twitter

We have free speech online because we have free speech offline, not the other way around.

This Latest Chinese Censorship News Is Important, and Bad Wikimedia Commons

This Latest Chinese Censorship News Is Important, and Bad

This is not how a confident government behaves. 

The Kremlin Is Losing Control of the Nationalist Movement It Helped Create Reuters

The Kremlin Is Losing Control of the Nationalist Movement It Helped Create

Russian nationalism, with its dangerous xenophobic overtones, is now spreading to the country's 'silent majority.'

Legitimizing the 'Civilized Internet': China's Seduction of U.S. Media Xinhua

Legitimizing the 'Civilized Internet': China's Seduction of U.S. Media

Beijing created the World Media Summit as a thinly veiled propaganda vehicle. So why are mainstream media companies participating?

Chinese Communism and the 70-Year Itch Jason Lee/Reuters

Chinese Communism and the 70-Year Itch

China's government is approaching an age that has often proven fatal for other single-party regimes. Will Xi Jinping make the necessary reforms to avoid a crisis?

When Western Journalists Loved China's Communists Cea/Flickr

When Western Journalists Loved China's Communists

A Shanghai exhibit on the 1930s commemorates an almost-forgotten era of foreign reporting on China, but what it leaves out is more significant.

Why Afghans May Vote for a Pencil or Bulldozer Reuters

Why Afghans May Vote for a Pencil or Bulldozer

In a country where fewer than half of voters are literate, ballots for an upcoming election take on a more pictorial form.

Chinese Dissident's Students Say Poor Teaching—Not Politics—Caused Firing Wikimedia Commons

Chinese Dissident's Students Say Poor Teaching—Not Politics—Caused Firing

When Xia Yeliang was dismissed from his job teaching economics at Beijing University, Western critics claimed his outspoken liberal beliefs were the reason. But the people Xia taught tell a different story.

Interview: Malala Yousafzai Defends Herself Against Oddball Conspiracy Theories Reuters

Interview: Malala Yousafzai Defends Herself Against Oddball Conspiracy Theories

Conservative critics have accused her of fabricating an assassination attempt and being aligned with the West, but she remains committed to advocating for young girls in Pakistan. 

Why Libya Is So Hard to Govern Reuters

Why Libya Is So Hard to Govern

Inter-group squabbling reigns as the country stalls on drafting its new constitution.

Malala Yousafzai's Global Reach Reuters

Malala Yousafzai's Global Reach

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the teen advocate shows "the world that good can come when you stand up for your principles."

 'Negative Physiological Impacts'? Why Saudi Women Aren't Allowed to Drive AP

'Negative Physiological Impacts'? Why Saudi Women Aren't Allowed to Drive

The odd restriction is as much cultural as religious.

How Internet Censorship Actually Works in China Carlos Barria/Reuters

How Internet Censorship Actually Works in China

Studies show that the government permits some dissent online—but strikes down hard on calls for collective action.

China to Unblock Facebook and Twitter—but Only Inside the Shanghai Free Trade Zone Reuters

China to Unblock Facebook and Twitter—but Only Inside the Shanghai Free Trade Zone

Throughout the rest of the country, the long-term bans on the popular social media sites will remain in place.

Meet Yang Jisheng:  China's Chronicler of Past Horrors Wikimedia Commons

Meet Yang Jisheng: China's Chronicler of Past Horrors

The author of the award-winning book Tombstone discusses how Chinese authoritarianism caused the greatest famine in human history—and continues to cause social problems today.

In China, Being Retweeted 500 Times Can Land You in Jail Carlos Barria/Reuters

In China, Being Retweeted 500 Times Can Land You in Jail

A teenager in Gansu Province who commented on police brutality has been detained as part of the government's crackdown on “online rumors.”

Burma May Be Liberalizing—but It Still Needs Chinese Money Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

Burma May Be Liberalizing—but It Still Needs Chinese Money

Despite its recent democratic transition, the Southeast Asian country is still reliant on its giant neighbor.

What Is Behind China's Big Internet Crackdown? Reuters

What Is Behind China's Big Internet Crackdown?

The recent spate of arrests is reminiscent of an earlier, darker time in Chinese history.

What This Hand Gesture Means for Egypt's Future Reuters

What This Hand Gesture Means for Egypt's Future

The four-fingered Rabaa has replaced the “V” symbol among the country’s protesters, and that could be a bad thing.

The Cop Behind China's Online Crackdown Reuters

The Cop Behind China's Online Crackdown

Once little known, Fu Zhenghua has detained or arrested several well-known Internet commentators in recent weeks. 

The Biggest Story in Photos

Fleeing ISIS, Syrian Kurds Swarm into Turkey

Why We Tend to Show Our Left Side in Pictures
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