2016 Annual Report
private enterprise and market-oriented reform
Not since CIPE was established in 1983, has our work been as important as it is today. Following the heyday of global democratic expansion in the 1990s, there has been a wave of changes, if not challenges, to democracy in all parts of the world. These conditions are causing many to reflect upon the nature of democracy, the effectiveness of its institutions, its vulnerabilities and its strengths – and, maybe most importantly, the conditions of the societies in which they function.
The rise of “illiberal democracy” is now a frequent topic of discussion. But the real problem is the “deterioration of democracy,” which is an invisible and incremental process by which democratic institutions themselves are first the cause and later the victim of social and economic neglect. It is a precursor of illiberal democracy.
These conditions have been simmering unnoticed for quite some time – and CIPE’s job is to correctly diagnose these problems of democracy and act to address them around the world. Why are so-called illiberal political movements in Europe on the rise? Why are young people in a diverse set of countries expressing skepticism about democratic institutions?
CIPE believes that the roots of the current dissatisfaction with democracy are broken economies and sub-economies and long-failed economic remedies that CIPE has been confronting for more than three decades. Whether it’s the relentless stagnation of socialism, the inequities of crony capitalism, the corruption of kleptocracy, or the economic dislocation that comes with trade, technology, and productivity, these unsatisfactory or disruptive conditions – to varying degrees and in various places – are compounded by the failure of governmental institutions to address them. And democracy will continue to deteriorate if “trusted institutions” continue to ignore these invisible but very real economic and associated social needs of the majority of its citizens.
Helping rebuild or strengthen those democratic institutions that directly impact the economic well-being of societies, big and small, is at the heart of CIPE’s mission. We are in the business of reconstructing democracies, piece by piece. And, it all begins with those customs and practices, rules and regulations that permit market economies to work and societies to flourish, such as the rule of law, transparency, and accountability, and freedom of speech – which, in turn, foster a climate in which democratic governance can exist.
Where CIPE is successful, it will have removed at least some of the conditions that contribute to the eventual appearance of illiberal regimes or worse. This is essential and timely work, and no other organization in the world is better positioned to tackle it than the Center for International Private Enterprise.