Freedom at Issue:

Insights on the global struggle for democracy

Russell Raymond

What happens in the next few months may determine whether Tunisia becomes a functioning constitutional democracy or finds itself embroiled in escalating political confrontations driven by appeals to the street rather than the ballot box.

Arch Puddington


This week marks the second anniversary of the arrest of former Ukrainian prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. A polarizing personality, Tymoshenko was a key leader of the forces that took power after challenging the results of deeply flawed 2004 elections in what became known as the Orange Revolution. In the 2010 presidential election, she was narrowly defeated by Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the Party of Regions, whose earlier presidential bid had been thwarted by the Orange protests.

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Sylvana Habdank-Kołaczkowska
Zselyke Csaky

When a far-right political party with a nationalist, anti-immigration, and Euroskeptic agenda joined a coalition government after Austria’s 1999 parliamentary elections, the 14 other countries of the European Union (EU) balked. The inclusion of Jörg Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) challenged an implicit agreement among EU members that extremist parties would be barred from central government positions.

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Lisa Davis
Sabina Vigani

Côte d’Ivoire has yet to reckon with the crimes committed during the conflict that followed the November 2010 presidential election, in which 3,000 people were killed and over 150 women were raped. Although the country has taken some steps to pursue justice, they have been slow and largely ineffective.The unresolved issues from the postelection period have contributed to countrywide political polarization and reduced faith in both the government and the electoral process. If these crimes are not addressed, the country’s prospects of becoming a successful democracy will be in jeopardy.

Peter Savodnik

Photo Caption: Nasser Shaikh leaves flowers at the grave of his brother, Khuram Shaikh.
On Christmas Eve 2011, Khuram Shaikh was murdered and his girlfriend, Victoria Tkacheva, was gang-raped while they were vacationing at a resort on the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka. Soon after, eight suspects, including Sampath Chandra Pushpa Vidanapathirana, a local political figure with ties to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, were arrested. Eleven months later, they were released on bail. One imagines the regime hoped that everyone would just forget about it and move on, and that is basically what happened. Of course, Khuram’s family, starting with his brother, Nasser, never forgot. But most everyone else did, and the story receded into the morass of terrible stories, in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

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Robert Herman
Isabel Rutherfurd

The steep gains for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in Sunday’s elections reveal increasing public discontent with the three-decade stranglehold of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on political and economic power in the country.

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Kate Byom


Photo Credit: Kevin Walsh

Here are 11 key numbers you should know before next week’s general elections in Zimbabwe.

Sarah Trister

The foreign affairs budget, which represents less than 1 percent of the annual U.S. budget, is invaluable for advancing U.S. foreign policy interests.

Daniel Calingaert

Dictators come up with some pretty lame excuses for abusing the rights of their citizens. And these excuses get taken way too seriously. Dictators want us to believe that what they do is about the same as what happens in the United States or in European Union countries. It isn’t. In the following blog post we look at some of the most common claptrap dictators throw at us.

Maria Snegovaya

Many observers have compared the recent Turkish antigovernment protests to those in Russia in late 2011 and early 2012. In both cases, the social unrest followed a serious decline in civil liberties and political freedoms under increasingly imperious national leaders, prompting some to warn of the “Putinization” of Turkey.

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