Democracy in the Asia Pacific

Supported by The Conversation Global and the Huffington Post, this multi-media research project traces the fortunes of democracy in the Asia Pacific region during a time of dramatic change, of contradictions, threats and opportunities.

The Asia Pacific has become the centre of gravity of the global economy, and is becoming the main stage of the world’s militaries, yet in many ways remains incoherent as a region. Tens of millions are lifted out of poverty each year, largely as a result of regional economic cooperation, investment flows, supply chains and development corridors. Defence budgets, military capabilities and deployments are ballooning, and there is a growing sense that historical tensions, distrust, territorial disputes and great power rivalries are posing renewed threats to regional peace and stability.

Political solutions for managing these challenging regional dynamics are undeveloped. Still in its early days, the project is examining the rising awareness of common fates and ‘connectivity’ among the states of the region. It explores the unusual ways in which the spirit and language of power-sharing democracy has taken root throughout the whole Asia Pacific region. It illustrates why the region defies easy categorisation; and why it has made its mark on democracy by redefining and reshaping Anglo-American ideals of parliamentary ‘liberal’ democracy. The project is aiming to map and make sense of a mosaic of contradictory forms of government, which range across the full spectrum from consolidated one-party regimes through authoritarian, populist, and military-dominated governments, to vibrant multi-faith monitory democracies. It asks whether, where, and why democracy has a future in the Asia Pacific.