As editorial cartoonists well know, freedom of speech and of the press is a cornerstone of democracy. A democratic society cannot function without the ability to criticize leaders, debate alternative policies and new approaches, and most importantly, hold leaders accountable. When governments refuse to share basic information with citizens and media, the press and civil society cannot do their jobs. Transparency helps voters hold their elected officials accountable for keeping their promises, and gives the media, think tanks, and the opposition the ability to critically analyze government policies — while the absence of transparency breeds corruption, waste, and even worse abuses.

Some questions to consider:

  • What does “transparency” mean?
  • How do authoritarian governments use their control of information to undermine democracy?
  • What is the relationship between transparency and corruption?
  • What responsibility do governments have to disclose financial details like revenues, budgets, and spending?
  • What information do citizens need to hold their elected officials accountable?
  • What happens when important decisions are made in secret?