Resource Library

Democracy - Civil Society



By Andrea Levy | Insights | Series II | No. 5 | July 2014

OK, I’m feeling a bit intimidated. The women in front of me are stone-faced and look completely aloof. Will they like me? Am I going to bore them? A day…


The Real Winner in Afghanistan’s Election

By Craig Charney and James Stavridis | Insights | Series II | No. 5 | June 2014

 We don’t know yet who will prevail in Afghanistan’s approaching presidential runoff, but we already know the big winner — the Afghan people. The big loser, of course, is the…


After the Arab Spring: Democratic Consolidation in Tunisia’s Elections?

By Craig Charney | Insights | Series II | No. 3 | February 2014

This article discusses the possibilities for Tunisia to establish meaningful electoral competition and the alternation of power as its second democratic election approaches. While the country has made important democratic advances since President Zine el Abedine ben Ali fell in December 2010, the country still faces many challenges moving forward.


Mandela’s South Africa: Why Democracy Won

By Craig Charney | Insights | Series II | No. 1 | December 2013

This April 1994 New York Times op-ed argued that the social movements, common identities, and shared values of South Africans boded well for the nascent post-Apartheid South African democracy. With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, we are reminded not only of his importance, but also the importance of all South Africans, who overcame anger and fear to establish their Rainbow Nation.


Understanding the Arab Spring: Public Opinion and the Roots of Revolution in the Arab World

Powerpoint Presentation | January 26, 2012 | 36 pages

This discussion with Craig Charney sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies examines what is distinctive about the five Arab Springs as well as why the Gulf States remain free of change, and other issues related to the revolution in the Arab world, including the distinguishing economic and political factors, the common political and economic elements, and new media. It also assesses the post-revolutionary conditions, post-revolutionary elections, religious institutions and identity, and international issues. The results of several national opinion polls show that upheavals occurred where the fewest were thriving, countries with more poverty had more unrest, and stability prevailed where the most were.


Egypt, the Beginning or the End?

By Thomas Friedman | The New York Times | December 6, 2011 | 4 pages

The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood and the even more fundamentalist Salafist Nour Party have garnered some 65 percent of the votes in the first round of Egypt’s free parliamentary elections since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak should hardly come as a surprise. Given the way that the military regimes in the Arab world decimated all independent secular political parties over the last 50 years, there is little chance of any Arab country going from Mubarak to Jefferson without going through some Khomeini. But whether this is the end of the Egyptian democracy rebellion, just a phase in it or an inevitable religious political expression that will have to coexist with the military and secular reform agendas remains to be seen. This New York Times article discusses the results of the post-revolution national election in Egypt.


Afghan Civil Society Assessment

Report | December 1, 2011 | 80 pages

This report offers an evaluation of the progress made by Afghan Civil Society organizations since 2005 by drawing on key informant and focus group interviews. It assesses the impact of the USAID-funded Initiative to Promote Afghan Civil Society (IPACS) on organizations that have participated in the program.


Egypt Since the Revolution

Report | November 1, 2011 | 17 pages

This report prepared for a presentation for the Egypt Roundtable at the Brookings Institute is based on a poll conducted by Charney Research for the International Peace Institute consisting of a random national sample of interviews with 800 Egyptian adults and discusses the current mood in post-revolution Egypt with regards to the economy, basic order and security, the national government, and relations with the West. As the economic situation has darkened, Egyptians have grown anxious and are looking for help from the state. Egyptians now say they were worse off financially and less secure than under former president Mubarak, while displeasure with the national government has jumped to levels seen under Mubarak while Prime Minister Sharaf’s favorability has plunged.


Shifts in Egyptian Public Opinion

By Ed Husain | CFR | October 11, 2011 | 4 pages

This article written for the Council on Foreign Relations discusses the results of a poll conducted by Charney Research measuring public opinion in post-revolution Egypt. The great belief that the Egyptian military does not kill its own was shattered this weekend as the army crushed a Christian protest in Cairo. Coptic Christians that wanted answers about the lack of support for new churches and the government’s failure to investigate previous attacks on Christians were answered with military bullets. Egypt is a country in transition with an increasingly impatient population.


IPI Egypt Poll: Concern Rising About Revolution, Economy, and Security

Report | September 20, 2011 | 6 pages

This International Peace Institute (IPI) announcement discusses the results of a poll conducted by Charney Research for IPI that shows that while Egyptians remain cautiously optimistic, concern grows with regards to the economy and stability. Egyptians now say they are worse off economically and feel less secure than under former president Mubarak. In these circumstances, the majority say the country’s ongoing protests are unnecessary disruptions.


Obama Versus Osama: Guess Who the Egyptians Prefer?

By Colum Lynch | Foreign Policy | June 21, 2011 | 4 pages

While the U.S. President Barack Obama is more than twice as popular in Egypt as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, the American president’s standing has never been worse in Egypt, plummeting since 2008, when he received a 25 percent favorability rating, to 12 percent in 2011. Even Osama Bin Laden, the late al Qaeda leader, was more popular this year, with a 21 percent favorability ranking. The Iranian leader fared worse, dropping from 21 percent favorability rating in 2008 to a miserable 5 percent. This article for Foreign Policy discusses the results of a Charney Research poll measuring support for various foreign and domestic politicians and political candidates.


Egypt: Towards Democratic Elections

Powerpoint Presentation | June 1, 2011 | 18 pages

This report based on a survey conducted by Charney Research for the International Peace Institute (IPI) assesses Egyptians’ attitudes regarding the upcoming elections and the various issues facing the country. Egyptians’ mood remains optimistic, but less as economic and security concerns have increased, with vote intention high across Egypt.


Egyptians Back Diplomat in Poll, Show Secular Bent

By Jay Solomon | International Peace Institute | April 7, 2011 | 2 pages

Egypt’s Former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa—a vocal critic of some U.S. foreign policy—leads the field among likely presidential candidates, with the secular Wafd Party emerging as the most popular political group, according to a poll by a United Nations-affiliated think tank. The poll also concluded that most Egyptians don’t seek any radical changes in their government’s foreign relations, including with Israel, or its path of economic liberalization. The poll, conducted by Charney Research for the New York-based International Peace Institute (IPI) for the upcoming Egyptian national elections, found Egypt’s largest Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, ranks second in popularity among political parties.


Pakistan: Public Opinion Trends and Strategic Implications

Report | December 1, 2010 | 20 pages

This report based on scientific, national, randomly-sampled opinion surveys assesses Pakistani attitudes towards the direction the country is headed in and the various issues that Pakistan faces

Rise of the Rest III: Climate Change, Energy, and Global Governance after the Financial Crisis

By Craig Charney , Nikolas K. Gvosdev , Parag Khanna , Stephen B. Young , David C. Speedie , and Devin T. Stewart | Audio | March 9, 2010 | 26 pages

This panel discussion addressed the changed brought by financial crisis in areas such as security, economics, governance, and environment. The crisis of global governance, in the form of power, norms, and institutions, has become a serious issue after the financial crisis.

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A Democratic Indonesian Tiger

By James Castle and Craig Charney | The Washington Post | August 1, 2007 | 5 pages

This Washington Post article discusses Indonesia’s comeback following the Asian financial crisis of 1997. The country has witnessed a collapsing economy, fleeing dictators and the establishment of democracy in the interval years. See what polling says about the country’s now and future.

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Hearts and Minds: Afghan Opinion on the Taliban, Government, and International Forces

Report | August 1, 2007 | 6 pages

This brief from a discussion of a panel of experts at a meeting of the United States Institute of Peace’s Afghanistan Working Group discusses current trends in public opinion in Afghanistan with regards to the performance of the Afghan government and the Taliban resurgence. Since the election of new leaders and the establishment of a new constitution, the government of Afghanistan has been trying to prove its legitimacy and ability to foster stability, security, and the rule of law. The Taliban resurgence is playing a major role in public perception of the government’s competence and the role of the international forces. Understanding these current trends in public opinion can aid in tailoring the international intervention to ensure that prior progress is not lost and that elements corroding the strength of the state are diminished.

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Misunderstanding Afghanistan

By Craig Charney and Gary Langer | The Washington Post | December 17, 2006 | 5 pages

This Washington Post article discusses misconceptions within the West with regards to the conditions in Afghanistan. The full picture of Afghanistan’s rugged terrain is much more complex: While active, the Taliban lacks popular support. Though Karzai’s honeymoon is over, he retains majority backing. The Afghan state is relatively weak, but it is present—and popular, in most of the country. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan is a country where the populace favors the U.S. and allied military presence.

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Strife Erodes Afghan Optimism Five Years After the Taliban’s Fall

Report | January 1, 2006 | 27 pages

This report of a survey conducted by Charney Research for ABC News/BBC World Services discuses the various reasons why optimism has declined within Afghanistan five years after the fall of the Taliban.

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Despite Deep Challenges in Daily Life, Afghans Express a Positive Outlook

Report | December 7, 2005 | 4 pages

This article of a survey conducted for ABC News by Charney Research of New York with field work by the Afghan Center for Social and Opinion Research in Kabul finds that four years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghans express both vast support for the changes that have shaken their country and remarkable optimism for the future, despite the deep challenges they face in economic opportunity, security and basic services alike.


Indonesia’s Elections: Nation Builders at Work 

By Craig Charney and Tim Meisburger | The Straits Times | October 14, 2004 | 2 pages

This article for The Straits Times discusses the success of U.S. funded voter education efforts in Indonesia. They strengthened Indonesia’s fledgling democracy in the past two elections. Nation-building works can make a difference with supportive partners and a sympathetic public.


Afghan Success Story 

By Craig Charney | The Washington Post | July 30, 2004 | 2 pages

This Washington Post article discusses Charney Research’s survey results that gauged the interest of Afghan citizens in upcoming elections. Charney’s survey showed that nearly three years after U.S. troops launched the war on terrorism in Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, Afghans want democracy. Though big problems — public ignorance, administrative and partisan difficulties, and insecurity — must be faced if the elections are to succeed, the research indicates democracy’s chances in Afghanistan may be better than widely thought.


Optimism in Afghanistan

By Ryan Sager | New York Post | July 27, 2004 | 2 pages

This New York Post article discusses the results of the first-ever public opinion poll conducted in Afghanistan by Charney Research showing that people there are optimistic about the future and excited about upcoming elections. Afghanistan has a constitution, is registering voters and is moving toward holding a presidential election in October.


Voter Education Planning Survey: Afghanistan 2004 National Elections

Report | July 1, 2004 | 124 pages

This report for the Asia Foundation based on a public opinion poll consisting of a random, representative sample of 804 in-person interviews offers detailed, quantified information on the knowledge and attitudes of Afghan citizens regarding their country’s September 2004 national elections. The mood is positive in most of the country, with Afghans identifying the major problems facing their country as its weak economy, the security situation, a poor education system, and shattered infrastructure. Nonetheless, a large majority is pleased with the Transitional Government and President Karzai’s job performance.


Ask the Afghans, And they’ll tell you they’re looking forward to their first free elections.

By Craig Charney | The Weekly Standard | May 17, 2004 | 4 pages

This article discusses the results of a poll consisting of in-depth, open-ended interviews intended to offer a window on the views of the Afghan electorate. While unease has grown in Kabul with the Taliban and its allies increasing their pressure, something different and important has been happening in the provinces, much less reported. Many Afghans have come to feel hopeful about their country and look forward to its first free elections, planned for September.


Voices of Afghanistan: Afghans Speak about Their Country, Elections, Gender, and Democracy

Report | March 1, 2004 | 76 pages

This report for the Asia Foundation based on 32 in-depth interviews offers an assessment of what typical Afghan voters think about various issues related to the upcoming elections and possible voter education campaigns. The Afghans interviewed are optimistic about their country’s future because the beginnings of peace, normality, and reconstruction outweigh their disappointment over continuing problems of insecurity, warlordism, and poverty.


Afghanistan: Bullets vs. Ballots

By Craig Charney | New York Post | December 4, 2003 | 2 pages

This New York Post article describes terrorist activities in Kabul with the reappearance of the Taliban in the country’s southeast, and the changing tactics being deployed to prevent the continuance of a resurgent enemy as Afghans are determined to rebuild their country, working with foreign help.


Democracy in Cambodia – 2003: A Survey of the Cambodian Electorate

Report | May 16, 2003 | 103 pages

This report for the Asia Foundation based on survey research consisting of a random, representative sample of 1,008 in-person interviews provides detailed information on the knowledge and attitudes of Cambodian voters. The survey also provides measures of the progress of democratization in Cambodia and the impact of voter education projects.


Indonesia: A Report on Public Opinion and the 2004 Elections

Report | February 1, 2003 | 19 pages

This report for the Asia Foundation based on survey research consisting of 30 in-depth interviews and 3 focus groups assesses Indonesian attitudes with regards to elections and democracy. It finds that the national mood is rather pessimistic, with the public discontented with the direction of the country and the work of the government, and the country’s key problems understood to be the economy, justice and corruption. Although some of the public know new elections are coming, and most know voters will have to re-register to participate, few know of direct Presidential elections.

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Democracy in Indonesia: A Survey of the Indonesian Electorate

Report | January 1, 2003 | 274 pages

This report for the Asia Foundation based on survey research consisting of a random nationally representative sample of 1056 in person interviews assesses voter knowledge and opinion, and identifies key issues and challenges facing election administrators and assistance providers in advance of the 2004 national elections. It covers the national mood, political participation, voter and civic education needs, gender, civil justice, media use and campaign recommendations, etc.


Voter and Civic Education Needs for the 2003 Cambodian National Assembly Elections

Report | January 1, 2003 | 26 pages

This report for the Asia Foundation based on 15 in-depth interviews offers an assessment of attitudes towards the July 2003 national elections in Cambodia and the development of democracy there more generally. The survey results indicate some progress in the consolidation of democracy in Cambodia over the past three years, although they also show that the country still needs assistance in voter education and other areas before it can be considered a fully functioning democracy.


East Timor Lorosa-e National Survey of Citizen Knowledge

Report | January 1, 2002 | 80 pages

This comprehensive survey consisting of 1558 in-person interviews was commissioned by the Asia Foundation with the goal of evaluating voter education programs to date and laying the groundwork for planning future civic education efforts. This report raises critical issues related to the national mood; voter and civic education issues; access to media; language use and preference; and demographics. It provides recommendations on each of these critical issues to increase voter knowledge and future civic participation.


Indonesia: Citizens Have Poor Grasp of Democracy

By Vaudine England | South China Morning Post | March 16, 1999 | 2 pages

Only three per cent of Indonesians see any connection between democracy and elections but nearly everyone intends to vote in the country’s June poll. Indonesians also feel cautiously optimistic about their country’s direction and future despite their concerns about the economy, according to the first nationwide survey of Indonesians’ views. This article for the South China Morning Post discusses the results of a Charney Research survey that assesses Indonesian citizens’ opinions about the direction the country is heading in as well as upcoming national elections.


Indonesia National Voter Education Follow Up Survey

Report | February 1, 1999 | 347 pages

This report for the Asia Foundation based on survey research consisting of a randomly-drawn national sample of 1,008 in-person interviews assesses the impact of the voter education campaign before the June 1999 election. The basic conclusion of the survey is the election and the voter education campaigns conducted by The Asia Foundation, USAID, and other organizations succeeded, with the election being far more legitimate than voting was under President Suharto and few complaints of electoral abuses.


Indonesia National Voter Education Survey

Report | February 1, 1999 | 347 pages

This report for the Asia Foundation based on survey research consisting of 2,593 randomly-selected in-person interviews assesses the information needs of Indonesian voters leading up to the June 1999 election. The national findings examine the national mood, attitudes towards elections, registration campaign needs, voter education needs, civic education needs, and voter education sources and media.


Public Opinion in Kazakhstan

Report | April 1, 1997 | 139 pages

This report for the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) based on a country-wide opinion survey analyzes the public opinion environment in Kazakhstan regarding the views of the public on political and economic development, the performance of government, and civic and political organizations. The results of the survey show that the public is discontented with conditions in the country; fairly favorable toward a market economy and economic reform, and strongly attached to private property; supportive of democratic rights, but increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of government institutions; and favorable to multi-party democracy, but not to the existing parties.


Black South Africans Defy Prophets of Doom

By Michael Hill | The Baltimore Sun | February 12, 1995 | 3 pages

This article offers a discussion of a study about political expectations of South Africa’s black population. A systemic study has found a politically sophisticated population that understands the limitations of government instead of a country that is full of unrealistic expectations.


Voices of a New Democracy – CPS Focus Group Report

Report | November 1, 1994 | 83 pages

This report documents African expectations in the new South Africa, following the nation’s transition to majority rule. The findings of the project, though relatively small-scale, reveal in-depth assessments of urban and rural opinions. Overall sentiments show realistic yet hopeful expectations with a desire for a political culture of inclusion.


South Africa: Campaign and Election Report

Report | October 1, 1994 | 285 pages

This report outlines the political environment in South Africa soon after South Africa’s first nonracial election and discusses the ways in which this election tested all typical transitional political and administrative challenges to the limit. The election was a historic first step achievement towards liberation and a nonracial society, and although it reflected the will of the majority of South Africans, the final numerical results of the election did not accurately represent the precise number of votes cast for each party.


Democracy Won

By Craig Charney | The New York Times | April 27, 1994 | 3 pages

This article discusses the potential implications of South Africa’s first multi-racial elections. Who will win this election, more importantly, what will that mean for the country. It seems democracy has already gained the first point.