Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

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Showing posts for "Democratization"

Afghans Vote for a New President

by Isobel Coleman
A man loads ballot boxes and other election materials on a donkey to be transported to polling stations that are not accessible by road in Shutul, Panjshir province, Afghanistan, April 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Ahmad Masood). A man loads ballot boxes and other election materials on a donkey to be transported to polling stations that are not accessible by road in Shutul, Panjshir province, Afghanistan, April 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Ahmad Masood).

Despite significant security concerns, Afghans went to the polls in droves on Saturday to elect a new president. An estimated 7 million voters, one-third of them women, cast ballots – a marked improvement over the 2009 elections in which only 4 million voted. Fraud and violence also occurred less than expected: while at least twenty people were killed across the country and numerous fraud complaints have been filed, there were no major attacks or allegations of foul play on the level of the 2009 election. Read more »

Supporting Tunisia

by Isobel Coleman
U.S. President Barack Obama and Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speak to each other in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Larry Downing). U.S. President Barack Obama and Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speak to each other in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Larry Downing).

Following his meeting today with Tunisia’s Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, President Obama announced $500 million in new loan guarantees that will allow Tunisia to access additional financing in international markets at favorable rates. This is good news for Tunisia, which has made more progress than any other “Arab Spring” country in its transition to democracy. Indeed, it has become an oasis of optimism in an otherwise tumultuous region. Read more »

Education and Egypt’s New Constitution

by Isobel Coleman
An Egyptian soldier opens a box of ballots before officials count them after polls closed during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Cairo, Egypt, January 15, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). An Egyptian soldier opens a box of ballots before officials count them after polls closed during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Cairo, Egypt, January 15, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

Last week, Egyptians approved a new constitution with a Mubarak-like 98 percent yes-vote in a referendum.  Many observers have been critical of the constitution, noting that it gives unprecedented powers to the military and fails to protect important human rights. Others, however, see it as cause for celebration, citing the document’s provisions on gender equality, religious freedom, and secularism as important steps forward.  A relatively low voter turnout of less than 40 percent combined with ongoing deep divisions in society over several constitutional clauses make it unclear how effectively the new constitution will be implemented or how long it will last.  But one element of the constitution should have the strong backing of all Egyptians – the little-noticed new provisions on education. Read more »

Tunisia Update: What to Expect from the New Constitution

by Isobel Coleman
A Tunisian boy waves a flag during a rally in Tunis marking the third anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, December 17, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi). A Tunisian boy waves a flag during a rally in Tunis marking the third anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, December 17, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi).

This week, Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) is voting on a new constitution. Two-thirds of the articles have already passed, and the approval process should be done by next week. Read more »

Is Kuwait Ready for a Female Judge?

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
A policewoman guides a female voter at a polling center during the 2012 parliamentary elections in Jahra, Kuwait, February 2, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Stephanie McGehee). A policewoman guides a female voter at a polling center during the 2012 parliamentary elections in Jahra, Kuwait, February 2, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Stephanie McGehee).

This guest post is by Alessandra L. González, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Politics at Princeton University and author of Islamic Feminism in Kuwait: The Politics and Paradoxes. Here she discusses the likelihood of women becoming judges in Kuwait. Read more »

Egypt’s New Constitution, Again

by Isobel Coleman
Members of Egypt's constitutional assembly finish their vote during the closing session at the Shura Council in Cairo, Egypt, December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters). Members of Egypt's constitutional assembly finish their vote during the closing session at the Shura Council in Cairo, Egypt, December 1, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters).

Earlier today, Egypt’s Interim President Adly Mansour received a final draft of the country’s new constitution from the committee tasked with making revisions to the one approved just a year ago. Read more »

Egypt: Another Step Backward on Civil Society

by Isobel Coleman
Egyptian soldiers stand guard near Rabaa al-Adawiya square during a protest by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo, Egypt, October 4, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh). Egyptian soldiers stand guard near Rabaa al-Adawiya square during a protest by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo, Egypt, October 4, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh).

Last month, Egypt’s interim ministry of justice proposed a law that would severely restrict Egyptians’ right to protest and assemble. If signed into law, the drafted legislation would give authorities the ability to cancel and violently crackdown on demonstrations without clear reason or warning. Read more »

Why There Is “No Exit from Pakistan”

by Isobel Coleman
The Pakistan-Afghanistan border, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Naseer Ahmed). The Pakistan-Afghanistan border, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Naseer Ahmed).

Last week, my colleague Daniel Markey published his latest book: No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad. The book is a timely, if sober, reminder that Pakistan is too big and too messy to fix, yet too strategic to ignore, much as some U.S. policymakers would like to. Read more »

Quotas and Women in Egyptian Politics

by Isobel Coleman
Women search for their names outside a polling station in Cairo May 24, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Suhaib Salem). Women search for their names outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, May 24, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Suhaib Salem).

Earlier this week, Egypt’s Constituent Assembly, charged with amending the country’s constitution, announced that 25 percent of municipal seats will be reserved for women. There is no word yet on when municipal elections will be held, or if a similar quota will be established for parliament, but the move is a positive step toward improving the low political participation of women in the aftermath of Egypt’s revolution. Read more »

Washington Should Suspend Aid to Egypt

by Isobel Coleman
Riot police fire tear gas during clashes with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, Cairo, Egypt, August 14, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). Riot police fire tear gas during clashes with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, Cairo, Egypt, August 14, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

The Egyptian military’s recent violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood makes clear that, despite their claims to the contrary, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his armed forces have no intention of supporting Egypt’s democratic process. It is time that Washington call the military’s actions what they are: a coup. Read more »