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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Close-up of a person casting a vote into a ballot box

8 Principles of Direct Democracy

We propose eight principles of direct democracy that shall provide guidance on the basic premises to be considered when direct democratic decision-making institutions are constituted. While institutional setups vary immensely across countries, there may exist a number of fundamental propositions that are widely applicable; propositions that make the use of direct democracy less controversial, less risky, more cohesive, and, not least, more democratic. It is important to discuss and clarify the use of this constitutive democratic institution that receives rather little attention.

Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, then the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Zimbabwe at the High Level Segment of the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council. Photo by UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Don’t Be Fooled by Zimbabwe’s Big Election Day Charade

On July 30, Zimbabweans will vote for the first time ever without Robert Mugabe on the ballot. Even before election day, there are very serious concerns about the validity of the vote. Vanguard Africa’s Jeffrey Smith and I wrote in the Mail & Guardian about eight reasons to worry, including poll manipulation, voter intimidation, interference by the military, and more. In totality, these problems already skew the outcome so greatly that they likely have already invalidated the vote.

Increasing External Debt and Electoral Cycles in Emerging Markets: How Do They Affect Prospects for Long-Term Growth?

Recently, the World Bank published its latest Global Economic Prospects report, which highlights a welcomed cyclical recovery for all major regions of the world following recent slow growth. I was pleased to participate in a panel discussion at CGD analyzing the report’s findings, and to share my perspectives both on its implications and on future global outlooks—­­especially for emerging market and developing economies.

Who’s Next? Who’s Still Standing? Africa’s 20-Year+ Club

Lots of speculation about which long-time autocrat might be toppled next and why [Zimbabwe, Cameroon, etc.] is not like [Egypt, Tunisia, etc.].  Our colleague Nic van de Walle has a terrific suggestion that 12 years is a sensible term limit for any leader.  In Africa, even with Ben Ali and Mubarak gone, there are still plenty who have been in power more than 20 years.  Here’s the list of who’s still standing (at least as of this morning):

Two Lessons from Tunisia

Recent events in Tunisia suggest two lessons.  First, the west is wrong to think of old dictators as useful allies.  Like other longstanding authoritarian despots before him, President Ben Ali managed to convince the United States (and also western allies like France and the UK), that the repressive nature of his regime was essential for regional stability.  In this case, his bloated police state was viewed as a necessary inconvenience by western diplomats, given the alleged threat of radical Islam, even if it meant that the West was maintaining close diplomatic relations with a corrupt and

Six Months, Three Elections, The Future of Africa

Long-delayed elections finally happened last Sunday in Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea (even the New Yorker noticed). Good for those countries and for West Africa. But it strikes me that there are three absolutely huge elections coming up in the next six months that—at the risk of being over-dramatic—will determine nothing less than the future of Africa.

Kimberley Process Keeps the Door Open for Zimbabwean Democracy

This blog post also appeared on the Huffington Post.

For four days, forty-nine Kimberley Process members were holed up in Tel Aviv contemplating Zimbabwe’s future. Countries like South Africa, Israel, the European Community, and the United States were deadlocked over whether to continue their existing export ban on Zimbabwean diamonds. What’s at stake is much bigger than diamonds. It’s about corruption, repression, and freedom. A vote to rescind the diamond ban could have slammed the door shut on a truly democratic future for Zimbabwe’s people. It would have been a massive coup for Robert Mugabe and his security force allies. And a death blow to those who have sacrificed everything for change. Thankfully, the Kimberley Process members sided with the forces of democracy. The diamond ban will stay.

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