Democracy in Asia

Scene inside polling precinct during the National and Local Elections in Metro Manila, Philippines on May 9, 2022. Filipinos cast their votes during the 2022 Philippine Election. (Photo by Ryan Eduard Benaid/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE
Editor's note:

An earlier version of Maiko Ichihara’s policy brief included a different screenshot of the most influential Russian accounts on Twitter. This has now been corrected.

As powerful democratic states around the world face increasing strain from an interconnected set of domestic challenges — political, economic, and cultural — as well as uncertainty about American strategy and the implications of emerging technologies, Asia represents a critical frontier for democracy and a major focal point for America’s leadership in the 21st century. As part of the Democracy in Asia initiative, an array of Asia experts from the U.S. and the region produced policy briefs on specific country contexts, with tailored recommendations for managing four of the most acute challenges to democratic governance in the region: corruption, disinformation, inequality, and public health. Many of the stresses on democratic governance in Asia are localized and organic to the countries in question. Similarly, the policy prescriptions advanced through this project are derived from the experiences of democratic governments in Asia.


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA- Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia judicial complex on July 28, 2020. Razak was found guilty on Tuesday (28) of all charges against him on his first corruption trial, two years after his government was linked to the 1MDB corruption scandal.

Authors: Thomas Pepinsky, Francis E. Hutchinson, Maria Ela L. Atienza, Hyeok Yong Kwon

Corruption remains a central policy issue for democratic governments in Asia, and the politics of controlling corruption is central to understanding electoral politics and elite political maneuvering.


A woman wearing a face mask uses on her mobile phone while walking along the street at Khao San Road during lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand on August 28, 2021 in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Vachira Vachira/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE

Authors: Jessica Brandt, Maiko Ichihara, Nuurrianti Jalli, Puma Shen, Aim Sinpeng

In Asia and around the world, disinformation campaigns — perpetrated by foreign actors seeking to shore up power at home and weaken their competitors abroad and by domestic actors seeking political advantage — are increasingly putting pressure on democratic societies.


Migrant workers conduct checks on a road surface with the city skyline pictured in the background at Marina Bay on February 13, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE

Authors: Andrew Yeo, Teresa S. Encarnacion Tadem, Meredith L. Weiss, Kok-Hoe Ng, Byunghwan Son

A key challenge to democracies in Asia is persistent or rising inequality. The diversity of cases in Asia — characterized by varying levels of economic and political performance — indicates, at best, a complicated relationship between inequality and democracy.

Public health

ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers seen wearing their uniforms, while chanting slogans during the protest against the West Bengal government over the non-payment of their salaries and other demands. (Photo by Jit Chattopadhyay / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)No Use Germany.

Authors: Syaru Shirley Lin, June Park, Feng-Jen Jean Tsai, Radhika Radhakrishnan, Stephen Duckett, Yasushi Katsuma

While some democracies in the Asia-Pacific garnered global attention for their successful initial responses to the pandemic, questions about how well they have protected democratic values have remained, as well as questions about the sustainability of those responses over time.