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About the Event

No region of the world has escaped what seems like a global shift towards populism. This spreading ideology spreads distrust in formal government institutions and systems. Often, those who adhere to it seek to marginalize, discriminate against, and at times even persecute anyone standing in opposition. From Belarus and India to Turkey and Venezuela—there are leaders around the world who are eroding the norms of democracy. 

Should the world react to stop would-be autocrats and this ever-advancing tide of populism? Can, and should, global institutions step in? And if so, how?

For the third and final event of this three-part series—titled “Democracy on the Table”—a panel of experts discussed country and regional hot spots facing executive corruption, the erosion of individuals’ rights, rising populism, and other challenges facing global governance and democracy.

About the Panelists

  • Francis Z. Brown, PhD, Senior Fellow in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

  • John Mukum Mbaku, JD, PhD, Nonresident Senior Fellow - Global Economy and Development, Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings Institution

  • Sarah Repucci, Vice President of Research & Analysis, Freedom House

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About the Series:

Nearly every day, the news is focused in some way or another on threats to democracy around the world. 

In Europe, there are concerns over wavering Brexit plans, and what it means for democracy in the UK and its relationship not just the EU, but other allies around the world. Autocrats like Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China are both testing the limits of democracy and feeling pressure from their neighbors in places like Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Hong Kong. Narendra Modi’s crackdown on dissent and other freedoms is rocking the foundations of democracy in India. Populist leaders like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Joko Widodo in Indonesia, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines are eroding individual rights and deepening corruption in their respective countries.

Even here in the United States, some are claiming that the end of American democracy as we know it has arrived. And in looking back on the wisdom of one of our country’s Founding Fathers, John Adams perhaps foreshadowed our current moment when he said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia hosted a series about the threats, opportunities, limits, and future of democracy at home and around the world.