Threats to Democracy in Slovakia

By Peter Goliaš, Jozef Hajko, and Michal Piško

The Institute for Economic and Social Reform (INEKO), with support from CIPE and the National Endowment for Democracy, conducted a study on the recent trends in Slovakia affecting democracy in the country. The study shows considerable popular dissatisfaction with the quality of democracy, worsening in the last few years. In order to ensure broad input, the research was based on a representative public poll, a questionnaire conducted with selected public figures, detailed interviews with business people, and discussions with thought leaders and students. The results reveal that the most frustrated segment of the population is prone to accept radical non-democratic solutions. This is a warning sign that further strengthening of extremists and opportunists in Slovakia’s political life is a real possibility.

The latest CIPE Feature Service article summarizes key findings of this study along with recommendations for various stakeholders, including the government, political parties, civil society, media, businesses, donors, as well as teachers and the society at large.

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Reaffirming the Euro-Atlantic Commitment to Democracy and Private Enterprise

Protesters at the March for Europe protest on July the 2nd, 2016 in London.

The outpouring of anti-globalist sentiments from both right and left in many western democracies is teaching those of us who support a global economic architecture many valuable lessons on how we should look toward reforming our international institutions of trade and finance. The rise of nationalism and populism in western democracies is a reaction to the perceived loss of sovereignty and economic exclusion that many ordinary citizens have felt as a result of the growth of transnational institutions, be they the European Union, the World Trade Organization, or more focused initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In reaction, citizens have been reclaiming their desire for sovereign power through exercising their democratic franchise at national polls, especially in the Euro-Atlantic family. Whether a backlash to Brussel’s Euro-bureaucracy through Brexit and the rise of populism in Central Europe or the increasing influence of anti-globalization politics within both U.S. political parties, we need to recognize that these assertions of political will are legitimate forms of grievance. While we may be disheartened by the message at times, we must at least take heart that these grievances play themselves out in a democratic process (albeit one that seems increasingly under fire). In essence, citizens are using their local ballot boxes to push back at international institutions that they otherwise feel powerless to influence.

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Democracy that Delivers #69: Oraib Al Rantawi on opportunities for public-private dialogue in Jordan

Guest host Anna Kompanek with podcast guest Oraib Al Rantawi

On this week’s Democracy That Delivers podcast, director of the Al Quds Center for Political Studies, Oraib Al Rantawi, talks about how he moved from being a journalist to the head of the Al Quds Think-Tank. Al Rantawi was a reporter and journalist from 1978-1993, covering a wide array of topics for pan-Arab newspapers, including the civil war in Lebanon and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Al Rantawi and guest host Anna Kompanek further discuss Al Quds partnership with CIPE, working for the past decade to engage political parties in Jordan with the economic reform process. They discuss the progress that has been made since the beginning of the partnership, as well as the political climate in Jordan and the opening space for public-private dialogue.

This podcast was recorded in the field, and the sound quality may vary.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

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Ethics, Compliance, and Oversight in International Development: Lessons from the UK

Photo Credit: DFID (via Flickr)

Although the international development community aspires to noble ends, the firms and organizations therein are not free from the same ethical lapses that can befall corporations with more naked profit motives. Adam Smith International (ASI), the largest international development contractor for the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), can attest to that point. In February 2017, ASI suffered a major blow when DfID froze all future contracts with ASI after uncovering unethical behavior on the part of ASI. These firm-specific compliance issues open up abroader conversation about the roles of ethics, compliance, and the public in international development.

ASI earned their DfID sanction by hiring an ex-DfID employee who then used their access to proprietary DfID documents to help ASI gain inside information into how to win DfID contracts. ASI also sought to influence the results of parliamentary hearings by engineering the content in letters of support from its beneficiaries. In both of these cases, ASI sought to cover up their wrongdoing with more deception. Taken together, these cover-ups revealed a toxic culture that had been given the time and space to fester.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #68: Stone Conroy on How Business Associations Can Help With Peacebuilding

Left: Guest Stone Conroy, with hosts Jenny Anderson and Julie Johnson

On this week’s Democracy that Delivers podcast, Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships at the Alliance for Peacebuilding Stone Conroy discusses the processes and vehicles that organizations can use to resolve conflict. He also discusses the need to engage a wide range of players in these efforts including businesses, non-profits, governments, the media, military, academia, and others. Conroy also talks about the drivers behind conflict, and identifies “a sense of injustice” as one of the most powerful forces for dissatisfaction that can lead to violence.

Conroy describes situations in both Nigeria and Northern Ireland where business and business associations were the key to building peace and conflict resolution. He talks about the convening power of business associations and how they can gather a wide range of stakeholders to address a conflict situation. Lastly, he discusses a new, cutting-edge Alliance project bringing together peacebuilders, spiritual leaders and neuroscientists to look at how the brain can be “rewired” to be more peaceful. Pilot projects are planned for Minneapolis, Chicago, and in Bogota, Colombia.

Learn more about the Alliance for Peacebuilding here and follow Stone on Twitter @Stone_Conroy.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes

Using Technology to Strengthen Policy Advocacy across South Asia

CIPE training session in Kathmandu, Nepal

Throughout South Asia, women in business have faced several barriers to achieving full civic and economic participation. To tackle these challenges, the South Asia Regional Women’s Economic Network has helped amplify women’s empowerment in the region. Supported by CIPE, the network has been able to effectively advocate for policy reforms that create more opportunities for women-owned businesses. This network is comprised of women business associations from Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India, and Sri Lanka.

The achievements of the network continue to show that now, more than ever, focusing on women’s economic growth is key to strengthening democracy. For example, Multan, in South Punjab, and Peshawar—both cities in turbulent regions—are home to large artisan communities consisting mainly of women working on hand embroidery and handcrafted textiles. Despite challenges for women to participate economically and politically, both the Southern Punjab and Peshawar Women’s Chamber pushed the government to change a policy that was impeding the earning potential of women artisans. Eventually, the State Bank issued policy instructions that led to lengthening the amount of time that artisans have to pay back their loans. Extending credit will help them in fulfilling orders, and allows them to plan purchases and sales further in advance, with less pressure for rapid repayment.

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M&E, Technology and Network Outages in Kenya

Workshop participants in Nairobi

This piece originally appeared on the Panopoly Digital Blog

Last week, I was in Nairobi, Kenya with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and their Kenyan partners from a wide variety of organisations, including civil society organisations and business membership associations from across Kenya. I was delivering a two-day training workshop on monitoring, evaluation and communication, how to use technology for those M&E and advocacy activities, and how to think about digital security.

CIPE strengthens democracy worldwide through private enterprise and market reforms. In Kenya, it works with partners to build policy and regulatory reform and provide services to regional members. Since Kenya’s devolution and decentralisation of government launched in 2013, CIPE’s Kenya partners have been working with their audience at a local level to ensure that local governments are accountable to their citizens.

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