WFD at 30

A multi-coloured wheel with icons representing health, the environment, education, inclusion

WFD at 30

At WFD, we believe that the power of people is the most transformative force on earth. Over the last 30 years we have actively helped democracies to grow stronger so that freedom and prosperity can flourish. Today, the devastating and illegal invasion of Ukraine shows that the fight to defend democracies around the world has never been more urgent.
Our impact

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.

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People in Myanmar holding signs in support of democracy at a protest against the military coup in February 2022

Relevance

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.

Richard Graham MP standing in front of a WFD banner speaking

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

Our work

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. 

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People climbing over the Berlin Wall

Experience

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.