Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


Research at PESD


Program on Democracy - Completed

CDDRL Program (Completed)
Completed

Researchers
Larry Diamond - Stanford University
Gail W. Lapidus - Stanford University
Michael A. McFaul - Stanford University
Terry L. Karl - Stanford University
Kathryn Stoner - Stanford University

+WEB+ Program Website

In the past three decades, the number of democracies in the world has tripled, and democracy has become the only broadly legitimate form of government. But many of the regimes that have replaced dictatorships themselves suffer from many illiberal practices, or hold multiparty elections only as a façade to mask continuing authoritarian domination.

The Program on Democracy at CDDRL examines the comparative dynamics of democratic functioning and change in the contemporary world, with a particular focus on the countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the post-communist world that have experienced transitions from authoritarian rule, and with a new interest in the prospects for democratic change in the Middle East.

Among the questions the program explores are the following:

  • How can we conceptualize and measure the quality of democracy, and how do we explain changes in the depth or quality of democracy across countries, and over time within countries?
  • How do semi-democratic, pseudo-democratic and "hybrid" regimes differ from more established democracies? How can these states become authentic democracies?
  • How do people in different societies around the world think about and value democracy? How do they evaluate the performance of their own governments? And how do these public attitudes, values, and evaluations affect the prospect for, and reflect the progress toward, stable, liberal democracy?
  • How can the rights of citizens be better protected in formally democratic regimes? What institutional, social, and cultural changes can promote a stronger human rights regime?
  • What is the relationship between natural resources, human rights, and democracy? How can countries escape the "trap" of oil wealth, which in most societies has led to massive corruption and abuse of power?
  • What types of policies, programs, and practices have been most successful in promoting or fostering democracy and good governance?
  • What lessons for fostering democratic political change in the Middle East can we learn from the past two decades of international democracy promotion activity?
  • What are the specific challenges of promoting democracy in post-conflict societies?