Welcome to this podcast by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. It is part of the ’State of Democracy in Southeast Asia’ series, and this is your host, Johanna Son. In this episode, we take a look at the elections lined up in the region. Can democratic mechanisms like elections lead to more authoritarian rule? We step back to look at what this trend says about the quality of the democracies in our midst.
In late November 2016, rainbow colors broke through the black of mourning found everywhere in Bangkok, as 700 activists and allies from around the world arrived to participate in the largest ever world conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
Civil society space is under attack worldwide. In her welcoming speech to the Global Perspectives Conference, Barbara Unmüßig urged 160 representatives of civil society organisations from around the globe to stand in solidarity with each other and to put the issue of shrinking and closing spaces back on the political agenda.
In the last six decades all over the world autocracies and military dictatorships were overthrown and initial steps toward democracy were taken. But over the years it has be-come clear that the transition from autocracy to democratic rule is difficult and by no means guaranteed. The authoritarian developing state – as an alternative to democracy – has gained massive momentum. Even in its ostensible strongholds democracy is un-der pressure today in many parts of the world. Institutions of democracy assistance like the Heinrich Böll Foundation and pioneers of political freedom have been struggling against a significant headwind for some time now. However, supporting democratic en-gagement worldwide is a core concern of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Human rights, democracy, and ecology – this triad stands at the center of the Foundation’s interna-tional work. The present publication “For Democracy” outlines and analyzes the state of democracy worldwide as well as the possibilities of democracy assistance. At the same time, the publication provides concrete insights into the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s political work for democracy. In addition, four essays approach the subject democracy assistance in a basic and passionate manner.
People want democracy. The surveys show anywhere in the world. But what is the right way to help people on the way to a better life in a liberal democracy? With years of active work in promoting democracy we support mainly dedicated people in the existing or emerging civil societies.
Governments around the world are taking draconian steps to suppress civil-society organizations, with measures ranging from restrictive laws and bureaucratic burdens to smear campaigns, censorship, and outright repression by intelligence agencies or police.