News & Updates

Is Democracy Surviving the “Year of Elections”?

Millions of voters are casting ballots in a string of elections across the globe this year. At the midyear point, how well is democracy holding up? “The picture is uneven,” writes John Glenn in a new Journal of Democracy online exclusive. Yet one thing is clear. Amid rising polarization and information manipulation, a key challenge ahead will be to strengthen trust in democratic institutions.

The following Journal of Democracy essays cover some of the most consequential, transformative, or surprising elections of 2024 thus far.

German Voters Trigger a Political Earthquake
The far-right AfD surged ahead in the European Union elections. It is now one of Germany’s dominant parties, and not just part of the fringe.
Michael Bröning

Why the European Elections Will Test Democracy
The danger is greater than the rise of far-right parties. In fact, there is a risk that in their eagerness to contain the far right, European leaders may do greater damage to democracy itself.
Richard Youngs

South Africa Has Entered a New Era
The African National Congress can no longer call all the shots, and opposition parties will have more sway. Will this lead to a more inclusive democracy or gridlock and division?
Ongama Mtimka

Can Claudia Sheinbaum Emerge from AMLO’s Shadow?
She was just elected Mexico’s first woman president in a landslide. The future of Mexico’s democracy rests on whether she can break from her predecessor’s ways and carve her own democratic path.
León Krauze

How to Stop India’s Authoritarian Slide
The BJP is ruling with a heavier hand than ever before, attacking opponents and silencing critics. Ironically, these may be the ideal conditions for a democratic revival — if the opposition seizes the moment.
Rahul Mukherji

Why Does the Kremlin Bother Holding Sham Elections?
Everyone knows that Russia’s election is a fraud. The problem is no dictator ever feels safe enough, and Putin thinks even a fake election will signal to his cronies that he’s still in charge.
Margarita Zavadskaya

Indonesia’s High-Stakes Handover
Indonesians have just elected a former general accused of human-rights abuses, with little respect for democratic institutions. The country’s democracy has not failed, but it may soon be fighting for its life.
Dan Slater

Inside Pakistan’s Deeply Flawed Election
The country’s polls were marred by delayed results and charges of rigging. Worse, they might plunge Pakistan into an even deeper political crisis.
Ayesha Jalal

How the World’s Most Popular Dictator Wins
El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele may be overwhelmingly popular, but he wasn’t going to let his electoral ambitions hinge on being well-liked. Instead, he rigged the playing field before the first vote was cast.
Manuel Meléndez-Sánchez

Why Taiwan’s Voters Defied Beijing — Again
Taiwan’s voters rewarded the ruling party with an unprecedented third consecutive term, despite the mainland’s attempts to intimidate. Expect Beijing to find new ways to threaten the democracy off its coast.
Raymond Kuo

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Image Credit: Man Hei Leung/Anadolu via Getty Images