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Democracy Defenders Briefing

Informed Action, Democratic Impact

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Dear Friends of Democracy,

 

As we embark on a journey together through the inaugural edition of our newsletter, I am filled with a profound sense of urgency and hope. The global landscape of democracy is at a pivotal juncture, with 2024 poised to be a defining year for the values we hold dear. The challenges we face are formidable, yet amidst these trials, we witness remarkable resilience and the indomitable spirit of communities striving for a just and democratic world.

 

2024 emerges as a record year for democracy, hosting a multitude of elections across nearly 80 countries, encompassing half of the global population. Never in the history of humankind have so many people had the opportunity to make their voices heard.

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 In anticipation of the critical 2024 EU Parliamentary elections, join us in shaping a democratic future for Europe by donating to our cause.

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The stakes are unprecedented, and not only because of the sheer numerical significance - democracy itself will be on the ballot. We stand at a crossroads, as anti-democratic forces seek to erode the very fabric of our societies. The battles we face are not just political; they are a fight for the soul of democracy itself.  In a host of countries, 2024 elections will see a battle between corrosive, anti-democratic forces, who are seeking to consolidate their grip on power and erode the fabric of democracy, and democratic powers, who are working to counter these threats, and protect the values of the rule of law, free and fair elections, and the freedom of speech.

 

In 2024, Action for Democracy's focus extends to battleground states facing these distinctive challenges.

 

The European Parliamentary election is expected to witness a surge of far-right populist parties that aim to undermine the institutions designed to maintain peace across the Union. They are working to sabotage EU support to Ukraine and soften the bloc’s stance on Russia. They have vowed to roll back the EU’s climate commitments, and impose draconian anti-immigration measures.

 

In Austria, the far-right, pro-Russian populist FPÖ’s looming electoral success represents a grave threat to democratic principles and the protection of fundamental human rights.

 

Once seen as a South Caucasus beacon of democracy, Georgia is now regressing towards authoritarianism and re-entering Russia's influence sphere. The ruling party -  Georgian Dream -  faces accusations of consolidating control over state entities and security services, undermining civil society and independent media, engaging in election misconduct including voter intimidation and unfair tactics, and employing selective legal measures.

 

In 2024, Venezuelans will have the opportunity to exercise their right to free and fair elections, and with them, to oust dictator Nicolás Maduro.

 

Amidst the accelerating global democratic backsliding, 2024 will be a watershed moment - as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and investigative journalist Maria Ressa told Politico: “We will know whether democracy lives or dies by the end of 2024.” Action for Democracy will be working to make sure that it lives.

 

Our newsletter aims to serve as a beacon of insight and inspiration, highlighting the crucial work of our Advisory Council, sharing voices from the frontlines of democracy, and offering actionable ways for you to join us in this critical fight. We stand together, united in our conviction that democracy must not only survive but thrive.

 

As we move forward, let us draw strength from our collective resolve and the knowledge that together, we can face the challenges ahead. Let this newsletter be a testament to our commitment to democracy, a platform for sharing our victories and setbacks, and a call to action for all who believe in the power of the people.

 

Together, we embark on this journey not just as witnesses to history but as active participants in shaping a future where democracy lives on, vibrant and resilient.

 

In solidarity,

 

David Koranyi

President, Action for Democracy

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Voices from the Field

We aim to share and amplify the diverse and insightful
perspectives of our grant
ees.

“The strengthening of the Eurosceptic right's position throughout Europe, and especially in Central and Eastern Europe, may raise concerns about the future of the European community as a modern, democratic union of progressive states. The demagoguery of the narrative of the so-called Europe of homelands is dangerous, because in reality it is a straightforward way to break up the Union into "lonely islands," from which it is only a step to a Putin-influenced dictatorship. The October elections saved Poland, but Hungary's chances of extricating itself from Orban's grip are, unfortunately, getting slimmer and slimmer. Slovakia, Italy are in line, and Marie Le Pen is waiting in the starting blocks. After Brexit, a Eurosceptic majority in the European Parliament would be another blow to the Union, so everything must be done to ensure that liberal, democratic forces in every EU country achieve a parliamentary majority together.”

Kuba Karys, Komitet Obrony Demokracji (KOD)

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Publications from Council Members

Our world-class Advisor Council features many prolific writers and thought leaders. In our monthly newsletter, we want to bring you a selection of their featured writings.

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“Evolution or revolution? The question being asked in Poland today captures the dilemma of trying to restore liberal democracy after eight years of populist state capture. Must one, for instance, break the letter of a specific law in order to restore the rule of law as an overall condition? The Polish experience will tell us something important about the future of democracy inside EU member states.”

Timothy Garton Ash, The world should learn from Poland’s tragedy: restoring democracy is even harder than creating it, The Guardian, January 23, 2024,

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“A year ago I felt reasonably confident that events were moving in the right direction. The Ukrainians had just liberated much of Kharkiv Oblast and the city of Kherson, and were preparing to move further south. At home, the 2022 midterms had seen election deniers lose in virtually every swing state race, while the Democrats avoided a massive loss of House seats as would normally happen in their first midterm election. We were finally free of the pandemic, and though inflation had returned, the U.S. economy was doing better than one might have expected. Today, things don’t seem nearly as pretty.”

Francis Fukuyama, The State of Global Democracy in 2024, American Purpose, January 2, 2024,

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“There has been much talk of late about a renewed far right surge in Europe, especially as the continent looks ahead to the European parliament elections next June. Is this tilt to the right likely to happen – and what could it mean for us?”

Nathalie Tocci, Will the hard right really sweep Europe in 2024? If it does, here’s what could happen,
The Guardian, December 15, 2023,

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“Every far-right movement, from Putin to [Donald] Trump, relies on the same legend — of a past where we were always innocent and then some evil came from somebody outside.”

Timothy Snyder, Ukrainians and Europeans must prepare to win the war alone. A conversation with historian Timothy Snyder about war, culture and the past, December 4, 2023, Babel,

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Call to Action

The Cambodian people embrace democracy and freedom but are prevented from living in a free and open society by the dictatorial Hun regime. The illegitimate Cambodian government has been increasingly cracking down on free speech, jailing activists, forcing opposition politicians into exile, using violence and intimidation to silence its critics, and committing grave human rights abuses against its citizens.

 

Action for Democracy has been actively engaged in supporting democracy in Cambodia. Crucial to this mission, is calling on key international stakeholders to put pressure on the regime. To this end, we have launched a petition, urging the US Congress to Pass the Cambodia Democracy Act, which would hold the Cambodian government accountable for abuses and corruption that undermine democracy, and empower local activists to rebuild Cambodian democracy.

 

Your signature on this petition not only amplifies the urgent need for international attention on Cambodia's plight but also stands in solidarity with those fighting for democracy and freedom against oppression. Join us in making a significant impact by supporting the Cambodia Democracy Act. Together, we can help steer Cambodia back onto the path of democracy and freedom.

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