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If there is one word that encapsulates democracy this year, it is resilience

Message from the Secretary-General on the International Day of Democracy 2021.

If there is one word that encapsulates democracy this year, it is resilience.

"On International Democracy Day, let’s celebrate the bright spots and support the brave protesters, judges, journalists, activists, and politicians who dare to stand up and be counted." -- Kevin Casas-Zamora, International IDEA Secretary-General

 

Video message transcript, delivered by Kevin Casas-Zamora.

It may seem out of place to celebrate International Day of Democracy this year. The headlines of the past months have been dominated by the failure of Western governments in Afghanistan; the negative impact of Covid 19 on fundamental rights; and the growing challenges of disinformation, polarization, and corruption. This is a tough time for democracy.

But there is also hope. Success stories about democracy seldom make it into the press.

Take one very recent and underreported election overshadowed by the Afghan tragedy. In Zambia, despite some dire predictions, the opposition won against the incumbent in a vote that stands as a beacon of light about democratic transitions in Africa.

Actually, over the past year and a half, in country after country, we’ve seen solid elections being held in extremely challenging conditions. Citizens have shown to be committed to expressing their opinions through the ballot box, even in a dire crisis.

Civil society has seldom been as active as in the past year, with people taking to the streets over excessive use of executive powers, inequalities or climate change. Social media has helped galvanize global grassroots movements from Black Lives Matter to Fridays for Future.

Courts are also flexing their muscles, whether by sending to jail a former President in South Africa or like in The Netherlands, by forcing oil companies to get serious about cutting carbon emissions. 

Even in Myanmar, where a democratic government was overthrown by a military coup, we can see signs of hope. A shadow government is in place and many people --young people, in particular-- continue to fight for democracy despite the risks. These people have chosen not to resign themselves to an authoritarian future.

Neither should we. If there is one word that encapsulates democracy this year, it is resilience. So, on International Democracy Day, let’s celebrate the bright spots and support the brave protesters, judges, journalists, activists, and politicians who dare to stand up and be counted.