Democracy is good for prosperity and growth, and a strong democratic system is key to achieving goals such as good health and wellbeing, quality education, clean water, and gender equality.
Through strengthening democracy, we help societies face challenges, for example by ensuring governments make and keep promises to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change or helping achieve policy change to end violence against women and girls. Democracy provides a way of solving problems.
Watch this animation, narrated by Harriet Harman MP, to discover the story of our experience, relevance and impact.
Russia’s war on Ukraine has brutally illustrated what is at stake in the struggle between democracy and autocracy. Democracy and human rights are not luxuries: they connect directly to our security, our prosperity, our well-being, and our ability to thrive.
People's thirst for democracy is not waning. The most recent Democracy Perception Index found that more than 4 in 5 people globally think that democracy is important. Headlines in 2021 alone spoke of significant pro-democracy protests or movements in Tunisia, Myanmar, Sudan, Thailand, Eswatini, and more.
Yet evidence clearly shows a decline in democratic governance. It started at least 15 years ago and afflicts every region in the world. According to Freedom House, 60 countries suffered democratic declines over the past year. And the Economist Intelligence Unit found that, in 2021, the percentage of people worldwide living in a democracy fell to well below 50 percent. Efforts to strengthen democracy could not be more necessary or urgent.
Reversing the recession of democracy is the issue of our time.
"Reversing the recession of democracy is the issue of our time. Democracies are fragile plants that need much tending and, untended, decline - at first gradually and then, like all gardens, suddenly. For more than 30 years now, WFD has been the constant gardener: actively helping democracies to grow stronger, so that freedom and prosperity can flourish."
Richard Graham MP, Chair, WFD Board of Governors
We equip leaders with new skills. We generate research and policy tools. We support parliaments to check public spending and scrutinise laws. We monitor elections. We convene coalitions. We facilitate mentoring and the sharing of knowledge. We help decision makers hear everyone’s voice. We do it so that we can all reap the benefits of freedom, inclusion and accountability.
Local knowledge guides our work. Watch this film to meet the team and discover some of what we're doing to strengthen democracy around the world.
In 1989, the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall, UK Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd approved the establishment of Westminster Foundation for Democracy. A cross-party initiative, WFD was incorporated as a non-profit in 1992. Its mission: "to help strengthen political parties and other pluralist democratic institutions in emergent democracies".
In the following 30 years, WFD has built a wealth of experience through working with parliaments, political parties, civil society organisations and independent oversight institutions. We have evolved from a grant making organisation to one offering technical assistance and directly implementing programmes all over the world that support more inclusive and accountable politics. And, since its very beginning, WFD has supported free and fair elections so that many more people can have their say in how society is run.
Over the last three decades, Westminster Foundation for Democracy has done much to support the development of democracy around the world.
The struggle to defend democracy around the world is getting tougher and WFD must continue its work in countries like Ukraine, helping their citizens to build the strong, durable, parliamentary democracies which will be needed to deal with the huge challenges facing the world over the next 30 years.
The work of Westminster Foundation for Democracy is as important as ever, and I thank the foundation from the bottom of my heart for what it does.