Many people in non-Western countries say that they want a democratic system of governance—but just not Western-style democracy. Yet what is meant by non-Western democracy often remains unclear, and at times is merely a cover for non-democratic practices.

A new book by Carnegie senior associate Richard Youngs, The Puzzle of Non-Western Democracy, examines the growing search for variation in democratic practice and the implications of this search for Western democracy assistance providers. Youngs argues that it is most useful to focus on the common challenge of democratic renewal in both Western and non-Western countries, and he identifies areas of democratic variation that may help to productively channel efforts for such renewal.

Richard Youngs presented the core arguments of his book in a roundtable event. Shadi Hamid, senior fellow  at the Brookings Institution, and Sandra Pepera, director for gender, women, and democracy at the National Democratic Institute, offered comments on the different regional applications of these issues. Thomas Carothers moderated the discussion.

Richard Youngs

Richard Youngs is a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program, based at Carnegie Europe. He works on EU foreign policy and on issues of international democracy.

Shadi Hamid

Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow in the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy. He served as director of research at the Brookings Doha Center until January 2014.

Sandra Pepera

Sandra Pepera is the director for Gender, Women, and Democracy at the National Democracy Institute. Previously, she spent thirteen years as a senior officer at the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, including leading programs in the Caribbean, Rwanda-Burundi, and Sudan.

Thomas Carothers

Thomas Carothers is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He directs the Democracy and Rule of Law Program and oversees several other Carnegie programs, including Carnegie Europe in Brussels, the Energy and Climate Program, and the D.C.-based Europe Program.