Democracy in Asia: A Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

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Image: Yogesh Mhatre

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this commentary are those of the staff member. This commentary is independent of specific national or political interests. Views expressed do not necessarily represent the institutional position of International IDEA, its Board of Advisers or its Council of Member States.


News reports over the past few months paint a bleak picture of the state of democracy in Asia. In Cambodia, a severe crackdown on political dissidents has been imposed by the prime minister and the closing of the last independent newspaper suggests that democracy is crumbling well before next year’s general elections. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug crusade has led to thousands of victims in a spate of extrajudicial killings. In India, civil society has called on the government to address the shrinking civil space and ensure that people are given appropriate voice. And in Myanmar, one of the international community’s most prominent defenders of democracy and human rights, Aung San Suu Kyi, has received harsh criticism from around the globe for failing to act on the ongoing Rohingya crisis.

However, the bigger picture actually tells another story. Over the past ten years, net democratic progress has increased significantly. Democratic gains have surpassed the rollbacks and the agenda for “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is gaining momentum.

Read the full article on The Diplomat here.

About the Author

Director for Asia and the Pacific
Leena Rikkilä Tamang

Leena Rikkilä Tamang is Director for the Asia and the Pacific region and oversees country programmes in Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan. 

About the Author

Consultant for Management of Nepal, Kathmandu Office
Mette Bakken

Mette Bakken is International IDEA's Consultant for Management of the International IDEA Nepal office.