Political Economy of Democracy PromotionIn January 2016, WFD and University of Birmingham – International Development Department launched a research partnership on the Political Economy of Democracy Promotion with Professor Nic Cheeseman and Dr Susan Dodsworth. The partnership takes a new and innovative approach by giving a research institution contemporary and direct access to the data, practice, people and beneficiaries of an international development agency – WFD – which is working at the heart of politics in over 30 countries. Over the last two years, research produced under the partnership, on parliamentary strengthening, political party support and civil society assistance, has generated positive attention (both for its findings and as a new model for collaboration between academics and practitioners). In 2018, the partnership will expand to cover additional research themes, including elections and women’s political representation, in line with WFD’s 2022 strategy.


  • Parliamentary strengthening programmes face unavoidable trade-offs when selecting programme approach (focus on issue or institution) and defining programmes scope (who to include).
  • The sister-party model has greater impact when parties share not just ideology, but similar levels of representation and power in the political system.
  • Citizen participation programmes tend to focus on narrow groups of established CSOs, potentially perpetuating a de-politicized vision of civil society.
  • Three factors influence how easy it is to motivate legislators to reject repressive laws: the existing level of democracy; the strength of international leverage; and the nature of the electoral system.

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Political trust: The glue that keeps democracies together

May 27th, 2020|Comments Off on Political trust: The glue that keeps democracies together

A thorough understanding of the effects of political trust, and how it can be built, is essential to combat the rise of populism and anti-system parties, and would be valuable for democracy assistance more broadly. Despite this, political trust remains poorly understood.