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 in Eastern Europe and elsewhere were demanding the right to self-determination and converting their governments to democracies, a social scientist considered 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.

Venezuela: A Dictatorship Masquerading as a Democracy

Ahead of a major election, the country is looking more and more like a failed state.

5 Ways to Interfere in American Elections—Without Breaking the Law

5 Ways to Interfere in American Elections—Without Breaking the Law

To influence U.S. politics, foreign governments don’t have to hack one party and collude with the other.

Is American Democracy Really Under Threat?

Is American Democracy Really Under Threat?

The country’s turbulent politics, in perspective

Why Conservative Parties Are Central to Democracy

Why Conservative Parties Are Central to Democracy

The right has repeatedly acted as a “hinge of history,” one political scientist says.

How Populism Helped Wreck Venezuela

How Populism Helped Wreck Venezuela

The story of how the country went from cheap fridges to no food is about more than socialism and corruption.

Is France's Political Crisis Just Beginning?

Is France's Political Crisis Just Beginning?

The greatest challenge facing Emmanuel Macron isn’t ISIS or the economy, but something more basic: governing.

Russia's Interference in the U.S. Election Was Just the Beginning

Russia's Interference in the U.S. Election Was Just the Beginning

Democracies across the West are vulnerable to foreign influence—and some are under attack.

How Populism Took Root in France

How Populism Took Root in France

It’s not about the rise of the far right. It’s about the collapse of both left and right.

Turkey’s Referendum: How Democracies Decline

Turkey’s Referendum: How Democracies Decline

Sometimes, it’s not with a coup, but with a vote.

What Is a Populist?

What Is a Populist?

And is Donald Trump one?

How Democracies Lose in Cyberwar

How Democracies Lose in Cyberwar

In 2016, Russia used the American system against itself.

‘What the Russians Did Was Utterly Unprecedented’

‘What the Russians Did Was Utterly Unprecedented’

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee criticizes Donald Trump, and the leader and members of his own party, for mishandling a “grave danger” to the republic.

Obama Makes the Case for Democracy, in the Land Where It Was Born

Obama Makes the Case for Democracy, in the Land Where It Was Born

“Any action by a president, or any result of an election, or any legislation that has proven flawed can be corrected.”

‘American Democracy Is More Than One Election’

‘American Democracy Is More Than One Election’

International election observers assess the state of U.S. politics.

Democracy Depends on the Consent of the Losers

Democracy Depends on the Consent of the Losers

What happens if Donald Trump is defeated?

American Elections: How Long Is Too Long?

American Elections: How Long Is Too Long?

The upside of the endless presidential race

The Most Important Question Lester Holt Asked

The Most Important Question Lester Holt Asked

“One of you will not win this election,” the debate moderator told Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What then?

How Indonesia Beat Back Terrorism—for Now

How Indonesia Beat Back Terrorism—for Now

One theory for why ISIS hasn’t gained traction in the world's largest Muslim-majority country

Erdogan’s Final Agenda

Erdogan’s Final Agenda

Where does Turkey go from here?

Should the Brexit Vote Have Happened at All?

Should the Brexit Vote Have Happened at All?

Critics claim British voters were unqualified to decide such a complicated issue. But democracy itself isn’t the problem.

‘The Totalitarian Regime Is Intact’: One Cuban’s Message to Obama

‘The Totalitarian Regime Is Intact’: One Cuban’s Message to Obama

The U.S. is pressing ahead with its opening to Cuba. What does that mean for democracy on the island?

The Meaningless Politics of Liberal Democracies

The Meaningless Politics of Liberal Democracies

The desire for theocracy in the Muslim world can be partly understood through the failures of Western secularism.