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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.

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

After the Plane Bomber, Where in the World is Nigeria's President?

This entry was also posted on the Huffington Post, AllAfrica, and Sahara Reporters.

Amid all the media frenzy around the Nigerian underwear bomber and how America should have stopped him before he tried to blow up a passenger plane on Christmas Day, a critical piece to the counter-terrorism puzzle seems to have been missed: where in the world is the Nigerian President?

Déjà Coup and the Forgotten “Autogolpe”

This blog entry also appeared on the Huffington Post.

Adam Thomson, in today’s Financial Times, writes of the coup in Honduras as an echo of 1980s violence in Central America. But, in fact, the past is not as distant as much of the coverage of the coup suggests and the seemingly forgotten autogolpe, or “self coup” in Guatemala in 1993 may offer some lessons for today.

Honduras: Walks Like a Coup, Quacks Like a Coup, But Not Officially Called a Coup?

On June 28, after months of tension over Honduran President Manuel Zelaya’s plan to lift presidential term limits, armed soldiers hauled him in his pajamas out of his home and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. Looks like a coup to me. Later that day the Honduran Congress voted to remove Zelaya and swear in Roberto Micheletti, head of the Congress, as the new civilian president. Even so, it still sounds like a coup to me. So, all the news stories call it a coup.