30 Years of Building the Infrastructure of Democracy

Almost thirty years ago, on June 8, 1982, President Ronald Reagan gave a famous speech to members of the British Parliament at the Palace of Westminster where he laid out a vision for how “to foster the infrastructure of democracy—the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities.” That speech, and the vision behind it, led to the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its four core institutes, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, and the Solidarity Center.

Three decades later, that vision continues to drive CIPE, the other institutes, and other organizations funded by the NED in their day-to-day work supporting the infrastructure of democracy. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the proliferation of democracy throughout Latin America, Africa, and much of Southeast Asia, and most recently the Arab Spring, the geopolitical landscape has changed dramatically since 1982. In all of these places, there is a continuing demand for the kinds of reforms that allow democracies to deliver for their citizens.

On Tuesday, June 5, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and the Pacific Council for International Policy will mark the 30th anniversary of Reagan’s Westminster Address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California (a livestream of the event will be available at that link from 9:00 AM PST). The original Westminster address is also available on YouTube, below.

Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

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